01/07/2005 12:00AM

Derby purse has ripple effect


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Churchill Downs stakes schedules for the 2005 spring and fall meets were released Friday with more revisions than usual. The changes are attributable to the announcement last week that the purse for the 131st Kentucky Derby has been doubled to $2 million.

A total of $375,000 was reallocated from other stakes to help fund the higher purse for the May 7 Derby. Still, Churchill will be paying out more than $10 million in stakes purses in 2005, the first year the track has exceeded that threshold.

The changes caused by the new Derby purse include:

* Elimination of the Kentucky Breeders' Cup, a race for 2-year-olds that traditionally had been held in late May. The $150,000 Kentucky BC, which included $50,000 in BC funds, had been run annually since 1988.

* The Fleur de Lis Handicap, which had been bumped to $400,000 for the 2004 running, reverts to a $300,000 purse.

* Decreases, by $50,000 each, for the following - the Early Times Mint Julep, now worth $100,000; the Ack Ack Handicap, now worth $100,000; and the Chilukki, a fall stakes that formerly had been called the Churchill Downs Distaff, now worth $150,000.

Churchill officials also noted that while the Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup will still be worth $200,000, the purse will include a new $50,000 BC supplement.

With those exceptions, the stakes schedules for spring and fall remain essentially the same. The spring meet, which runs April 30 to July 10, includes 32 stakes, highlighted by the Derby and Kentucky Oaks, while the fall meet (Oct. 30 to Nov. 26) will offer 12 stakes, most notably the $500,000 Clark Handicap on Nov. 25.

One new feature of the fall meet will come Nov. 5, which Churchill is now calling its "Stars of Tomorrow Day." Every race on the card will be for 2-year-olds, including the $100,000 Iroquois and $100,000 Pocahontas.