07/24/2009 11:00PM

Churchill Fall meet stakes unchanged from '08


Churchill Downs on Friday released the stakes schedule for the 2009 fall meet with virtually no changes in purse levels or scheduling from last year.

Purses for the 12-race schedule total $1.775 million. All 12 stakes are graded, and only one, the Ack Ack Handicap, was moved, from its customary opening-day slot to Nov. 6, the Friday of the two-day Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.

Otherwise, the fall meet, which runs Nov. 1-28, will look very familiar. The Grade 2, $400,000 Clark Handicap on the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, is the top race. Other highlights are the Stars of Tomorrow programs on opening and closing days, and the Grade 2, $150,000 Falls City Handicap Nov. 26.

Churchill president Kevin Flanery said in a release: "Despite intensifying competition from tracks in nearby states with purses fueled by casino revenues and the nations's difficult economic landscape, our purses for stakes races in the 2009 fall meet remain level with those offered during last year's meet."

Although purses remain the same from 2008, the stakes schedule took a major hit last fall when reduced by $975,000 from their 2007 levels because of a lengthy dispute between Churchill and its horsemen regarding account-wagering revenue splits. Purses also were cut substantially at the 2009 spring meet that ended July 5.

Unlike in recent years, when the fall meet stretched to five weeks, the 2009 meet will run just four weeks because of the way the calendar falls.