02/06/2015 1:33PM

Derby Trial renamed for Pat Day


Churchill Downs released its 2015 spring stakes schedule Friday with something of a bombshell for racing traditionalists: the Derby Trial is no longer.

Run in recent years as the opening-night feature of the spring meet, the Derby Trial has been renamed the Pat Day Mile and moved to the Kentucky Derby undercard. The $200,000 race will maintain its Grade 3 status.

In place of the Derby Trial on opening night, April 25, Churchill is using a new $100,000 sprint for 3-year-olds named the William Walker, honoring the jockey of the 1877 Derby winner, Baden-Baden.

The Derby Trial used to be an important Kentucky Derby prep, but the last Derby winner to run in both races was Tim Tam in 1958. The 2014 running was won by Embellishing Bob on the disqualification of Bayern.

“We’ve been kicking around the idea of moving the Derby Trial to Kentucky Derby Day for a couple of years now because the race is clearly not a significant step to the Derby anymore, with the way horsemen train their horses today,” Ben Huffman, Churchill’s director of racing, said in a news release. “We revere the storied history of the race but ultimately feel that a one-turn mile race with familiar 3-year-olds that aren’t up to the 1 1/4-mile distance could prove to be very popular with both horsemen and fans alike on Kentucky Derby Day.”

Among the other tweaks to the 2015 schedule are $100,000 purse hikes for a pair of Grade 2 races, the $400,000 Alysheba and $500,000 Churchill Downs. In all, 25 stakes worth more than $8 million are set for a 38-day spring meet that runs through June 27.

Aside from multistakes cards on Kentucky Oaks and Derby days (May 1-2), the spring schedule also includes multistakes night programs on June 13 (Grade 1 Stephen Foster and three others) and closing night (Grade 2 Firecracker and two 2-year-old stakes).

2015 spring stakes schedule

Sat., April 25  William Walker  3YO 6 furlongs  $100,000
Fri., May 1  Kentucky Oaks (G1)  3YO F  1 1/8 miles $1,000,000
Fri., May 1  La Troienne (G1)  4YO & Up F&M 1 1/16 miles  $300,000
Fri., May 1  Alysheba (G2) 4YO & Up  1 1/16 miles $400,000
Fri., May 1  Eight Belles (G3) 3YO F 7 furlongs $200,000
Fri., May 1  Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3)  4YO & Up 5 furlongs (T) $150,000
Fri., May 1  Edgewood (G3) 3YO F 1 1/16 miles (T) $150,000
Sat., May 2 Kentucky Derby (G1) 3YO 1 1/4 miles  $2,000,000
Sat., May 2 Woodford Reserve (G1) 4YO & Up 1 1/8 miles (T) $500,000
Sat., May 2 Humana Distaff (G1) 4YO & Up F&M 7 furlongs $300,000
Sat., May 2 Churchill Downs (G2)  4YO & Up 7 furlongs  $500,000
Sat., May 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) 4YO & Up F&M 1 mile (T) $300,000
Sat., May 2 American Turf (G2) 3YO 1 1/16 miles (T) $250,000
Sat., May 2 Pat Day Mile (G3) 3YO 1 mile  $200,000
Sat., May 23   Louisville Handicap (G3) 3YO & Up   1 1/2 miles (T) $100,000
Mon., May 25 Winning Colors (G3) 3YO & Up F&M 6 furlongs $100,000
Sat., May 30 Aristides (G3) 3YO & Up 6 furlongs $100,000
Sat., June 6  Mint Julep (G3) 3YO & Up F&M 1 1/16 miles (T) $100,000
Sat., June 13  Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) 3YO & Up 1 1/8 miles $500,000
Sat., June 13  Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2)  3YO & Up F&M 1 1/8 miles $200,000
Sat., June 13  Matt Winn (G3)  3YO 1 1/16 miles  $100,000
Sat., June 13  Regret (G3)  3YO F  1 1/8 miles (T) $100,000
Sat., June 27   Firecracker (G2)  3YO & Up 1 mile (T) $200,000
Sat., June 27   Bashford Manor (G3)  2YO 6 furlongs $100,000
Sat., June 27   Debutante  2YO F  6 furlongs  $100,000


Vince Piscitelli More than 1 year ago
I believe Marty meant Tim Tam was the last horse to WIN both the Trial and Derby. Several horses have RUN in both side 1958. Vince P
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
This is kind of a full circle story for me. I recall when Day was "contract" bug boy for J R Smith, who ran a big string in the Midwest. When Pat lost the bug, Smith dumped him. Rider went on to the Hall and trainer went all to hell... Racing Justice was served.
George Smith More than 1 year ago
Pat Day actually spent most of his apprenticeship in New York.
elwood bluze More than 1 year ago
The J.R. Smith Sr. I knew in Chicago was an excellent horseman who excelled in the claiming game and had a very successful career. You come across like a bitter little man Chad.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
I think they moved the race for two reasons: 1) they think more money will be bet on the race if it's on Derby Day and 2) they don't want trainers using the race as a Preakness prep. Once they changed the race to Derby Day, it needed a new name. Bout time Churchill named a race for Pat Day.
Reed Galinac More than 1 year ago
I'm all for a race name for Patient Pat. Awesome. But don't do it at the expense of 100+ years of history. I don't care if it's an anachronistic. It's what the race represents that's important. The Derby Trial means Churchill's open, spring has sprung, and the Derby is a week away, baby. BTW - there's nothing wrong with being the unofficial "Preakness Prep," either...
Frank More than 1 year ago
I dont care how many grade I or big races this POS track puts out. If they ruin the racing surface like they did last year derby / oaks day and make it all speed bias - I wont be betting a single dime on these races.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
I don't know why but I get the strangest feeling that you lost last year on Derby and Oaks day, for some reason.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
It's a good thing Churchill Downs didn't use the same consultant Santa Anita did when changing the name of their races.