04/17/2002 11:00PM

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Colonial Downs has raised the purse of this year's Virginia Derby to $500,000, an increase of $300,000 over last year. The Virginia Derby will be run for the fifth time this year, on July 13. . . . Hastings Park, which opens its 2002 meet Saturday, has been forced to cancel this Sunday and Wednesday's cards because of a shortage of horses available to run. Phil Heard, general manager of Hastings, attributed the shortage to the poor weather conditions over the winter and a virus going around the backstretch. . . . William O. Hicks, who trained for Cambridge Stable on the New York circuit, died Tuesday in Aiken, S.C., at age 92 after a prolonged illness. Among the horses Hicks trained were stakes winners Clout, Pilot, and Turn of Coin. . . . . Team Valor, the Kentucky-based racing partnership, is again sponsoring the "Valordictorian" Award, a $25,000 college scholarship for a student who has a parent working with Thoroughbreds on the backstretch of a United States racetrack. Applicants must register by July 15 at www.teamvalor.com and submit a essay of up to 300 words about the parent's involvement in racing.