09/27/2006 11:00PM

Florida Derby stays 5 weeks from Derby


Gulfstream Park will tweak its 3-year-old stakes program in 2007 but won't be making any changes to its cornerstone event, the $1 million Florida Derby, which for the third straight year will be run five weeks before the Kentucky Derby.

The Florida Derby, to be run next year on March 31, is one of three Grade 1 races on Gulfstream's 2007 stakes schedule, which was announced Thursday. There are 45 stakes races on the schedule, including 31 graded stakes, and the total purses are worth $9.25 million. The 2007 Gulfstream meet opens Jan. 3.

Among the changes to Gulfstream's traditional 3-year-old program leading up to the Florida Derby in 2007 will be to shorten the Grade 2 Swale from seven furlongs to 6 1/2 furlongs and to move the Swale up in the schedule to join the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 3. The Holy Bull and the Grade 2 Davona Dale for 3-year-old fillies have also been shortened, from 1 1/8 miles to one mile, and the Aventura has been shortened from a mile to seven furlongs and moved to March 31.

Other meet highlights include the three multi-stakes "Spectacular Saturday" cards - Feb. 3, March 3, and March 31 - and four stakes on the $3.6 million Sunshine Millions program for Florida- and California-breds on Jan. 27.