06/27/2013 12:56PM

Churchill Downs to run eight stakes during September meet


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Pocahontas and Iroquois are among a handful of longstanding fixtures being assimilated into a schedule of eight stakes at the new 12-day September meet at Churchill Downs.

The Grade 2 Pocahontas and Grade 3 Iroquois – formerly held at the traditional fall meet that runs from late October through Thanksgiving weekend – help kick off the stakes schedule on Sept. 7, the first Saturday of what Churchill is calling the “homecoming meet.” Those twin $150,000 races for 2-year-olds have been designated “Win and You’re In” events toward the Breeders’ Cup and will be packaged on the same stakes-laden program with the Grade 3 Ack Ack and the Locust Grove.

All eight stakes are worth at least $100,000, with the only newly-named race, the $175,000 Homecoming Classic on Sept. 28, being the richest. Churchill racing officials have designed that 1 1/8-mile dirt race as a prep for the Grade 1 Clark Handicap eight weeks later.

Churchill will run Fridays through Sundays on four straight weekends in September. Two of the Saturdays, Sept. 7 and 28, will be Downs After Dark cards. The meet runs Sept. 6-29.

The other stakes on the September schedule have been run at Churchill in prior years, although some had been discontinued for varying lengths of time. Those races are the Sept. 14 Open Mind, the Sept. 21 Dogwood, and the Sept. 28 Jefferson Cup, the latter being the only stakes scheduled for the turf.

Churchill was granted the dates by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in lieu of struggling Turfway Park, which traditionally ran the September block of dates.