03/01/2002 12:00AM

Fifth graded stakes added to 2002 meet


Delaware Park has gained a fifth graded race for its stakes schedule this season.

The $250,000 Leonard Richards, to be run on June 8, was upgraded to Grade 3 status earlier this year and has been given a $50,000 boost in purse money. The track's other Grade 3 races are the Delaware Handicap, the Delaware Oaks, the Kent Breeders' Cup, and the Endine Stakes.

As usual, the biggest weekend of the season will be built around the $600,000 Delaware Handicap for fillies and mares. The 1 1/4-mile race, which will be televised on ESPN2 as part of its Road to the Breeders' Cup series, is scheduled for July 21.

The Del Cap Day undercard includes the $250,000 Kent Breeders' Cup for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the turf and the $75,000 Light Hearted Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

On July 20, 3-year-old fillies will run in the $250,000 Delaware Oaks at 1 1/16 miles. The Oaks card will be supported by the $150,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Breeders' Cup for fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles on the turf and the $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles.

Eight stakes received purse increases this season. Most notably, the Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup, bolstered by $75,000 from the Breeders' Cup fund, has been raised $100,000 to $175,000.

The Caesar Rodney Handicap will now be worth $200,000, an increase of $50,000.

The Blue Hen, Brandywine, Dover, Kelso, and Nastique all were raised $25,000 to $100,000.

Delaware will open its 139-day meet on April 27, and race until Nov. 17. Live racing will be conducted Sunday through Tuesday with Wednesdays added from May 22 through Oct. 9.