01/08/2009 12:00AM

Darley sponsors Debutante at Del Mar

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The Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante has been renamed the Darley Debutante and the purse raised from $250,000 to $300,000 after the racetrack and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai, owner of Darley's multinational breeding operation, reached a sponsorship agreement, the track announced on Thursday.

The seven-furlong Debutante will be run on Sept. 5 this year. The race is a leading prep to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies each year.

Darley's investment in the Debutante is its first foray into sponsoring a California stakes, Del Mar said in a statement. In addition to purse money, Darley's stallion farm will provide a free breeding season to the winning owner and breeder of the race's winner.

Darley has been actively expanding its Thoroughbred holdings in the United States. It reached a deal last year to acquire Stonerside Stable's property in Kentucky and its Thoroughbreds, including Midshipman, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a finalist for the Eclipse Award for outstanding 2-year-old male of 2008.

The 2008 Del Mar Debutante was won by Stardom Bound, a finalist for the Eclipse Award as top 2-year-old filly of the year.