01/31/2014 2:42PM

Few changes to 2014 stakes at Arlington, Hawthorne


The Illinois Racing Board approved 2014 stakes schedules for Arlington and Hawthorne during a regularly scheduled meeting Friday in Chicago, though approval of the Arlington schedule was not a rubber stamp.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association continues to balk at the $400,000 purse offered in the American St. Leger Stakes, a marathon turf race created in 2012 that has drawn good winners but fields lacking quality to match the race’s robust purse. Still, after discussion, the IRB approved Arlington’s schedule, including the St. Leger, by a 7-1 vote, and the 2014 stakes calendar at both Chicago-area tracks will look almost exactly like last year’s.

The St. Leger is part of Arlington Million Day, scheduled for Aug. 16. Besides the Million and the St. Leger, the card also includes the $750,000 Beverly D., the $500,000 Secretariat, and the $75,000 Hatoof. The second-biggest program of the Arlington season, Million Preview Day, is scheduled for July 12 this year.

Arlington only made two changes to its stakes schedule from 2013: The track’s two most important 2-year-old stakes, the Arlington-Washington Futurity and the Arlington-Washington Lassie, were shortened from one mile to seven furlongs, while the Addison Cammack Handicap, a $100,000 Illinois-bred sprint, was shifted from June 8 to July 26. Arlington will offer 25 stakes worth $5.5 million during its 89-day meet.

Hawthorne, meanwhile, will once again host the Grade 3 Illinois Derby two weeks before the Kentucky Derby and four weeks before the Preakness, a position to which the race was moved in 2013. The Illinois Derby purse, $750,000 last year, has been trimmed back to its more traditional $500,000 this year. The Illinois Derby will be run April 19 along the spring meet’s only other graded stakes, the Grade 3, $150,000 Sixty Sails. Hawthorne rounds out its spring stakes schedule with six $100,000 stakes for Illinois-breds.