12/07/2004 1:00AM

Commonwealth BC gets largest increase among stakes purses


Keeneland Race Course on Tuesday released its stakes schedule for the 2005 spring meet with purse increases in five races, lifting the value of the stakes program to more than $4.1 million, not including added monies.

The most notable of the purse increases is on the Grade 2 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup, a seven-furlong race for older horses. The Commonwealth BC, to be run on the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes undercard on April 16, will be worth $400,000, up from $250,000 this year.

In other increases, the purse for the Jenny Wiley is doubled to $200,000; the Maker's Mark Mile adds $50,000, making it worth $250,000; and the Stravinsky and Shakertown are both being bumped from $75,000 to $100,000. In all, the increases amount to another $350,000 in stakes purses.

The traditional schedule remains in place for a 16-day meet, which runs April 8-29. Besides the Grade 1 Blue Grass, other highlights at the Lexington, Ky., track are the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes on April 9 and the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington on April 23.

In all, 19 stakes are on the schedule, 15 of them graded. All stakes are now worth at least $100,000, and every program will offer at least one stakes.

Per-day purses are expected to average about $600,000, the perennial top in North America for any non-Breeders' Cup meet.