02/06/2014 2:26PM

Churchill Downs: Stakes purses up about 3 percent at spring meet


Churchill Downs officials on Thursday released the stakes schedule for the 2014 spring meet, with little change from the status quo and an increase in stakes purses of almost 3 percent.

The 140th Kentucky Derby on May 3 serves as the traditional high point of the meet, which features 24 stakes worth almost $7.7 million in total.

The $2 million Kentucky Derby will culminate a weekend that includes 11 other stakes, most notably the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 2.

The six Derby Day stakes are worth more than $3.7 million in total, and the six Oaks Day stakes more than $2 million. Other major events on Derby Weekend include the La Troienne, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, and Humana Distaff, all Grade 1 events.

The meet begins April 26 with the $150,000 Derby Trial and the first of four Downs After Dark programs.

Among the minor changes:

◗ Six races received purse increases cumulatively worth $225,000, while the Derby Trial was decreased by $25,000.

◗ The American Turf (now on Derby Day) and Churchill Turf Sprint (now Oaks Day) have switched days.

◗ The Grade 2 Firecracker, won last year by Wise Dan, is no longer a handicap.

The post-Derby highlight once again will be the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster, one of four stakes worth a total of $900,000 on a June 14 Downs After Dark program.

The two other Downs After Dark cards are scheduled for the last two Fridays of the meet, June 20 and 27.

The meet runs through June 29.