11/27/2008 12:00AM

Few major changes in 75-stakes slate


Santa Anita will run 75 stakes at its upcoming winter-spring meeting, which runs from Dec. 26 until April 19, and the schedule has undergone several revisions from 2007-08. The purses of 21 races have been reduced, while the purses of seven races have been increased.

Four of the races that have been strengthened are for females. The Santa Monica Handicap for sprinters, the Santa Maria for routers, and the Las Virgenes Stakes and Providencia Stakes for 3-year-olds have each had their purses increased by $50,000. Three turf stakes - the Tuzla, Thunder Road and Daytona handicaps - have been increased $25,000, to $100,000 each.

Thirteen minor stakes had purses dropped from $75,000 to $70,000. Only one race for females had a significant cut, the Las Flores Handicap for sprinters, which was reduced from $150,000 to $100,000.

Six races for males were cut by $50,000 each - the San Fernando Stakes and Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds, the San Rafael Stakes for 3-year-olds, the San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano handicaps for turf horses, the San Antonio Handicap for older males, and the Potrero Grande Handicap for sprinters.

For the most part, the dates of the major stakes of the meetings remain unchanged. One alteration occurs on March 7, the day of the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap for older horses, the richest race of the meeting. The undercard includes the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, a race that had been run a week later on the same program as the the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap for older females. The Sham Stakes, which in 2008 was on the Big Cap undercard, will be run as the primary race on Feb. 28, serving as a key prep to the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4. The Santa Monica Handicap had been run on the day following Sunshine Millions, which is scheduled for Jan. 24, but next year it will be run the following Saturday, Jan. 31.