02/12/2015 11:26AM

Kent Stakes bolsters Delaware Handicap card


Delaware Park has bolstered its biggest day of the season this year by moving the Grade 3 Kent Stakes from its usual September spot on the calendar to the Delaware Handicap undercard.

The Grade 1, $750,000 Delaware Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile race for fillies and mares, will be run July 18. It was won last year by Belle Gallantey, who went on to win the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational at Belmont Park in September.

The $200,000 Kent is a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. It's purse has been boosted $50,000 this year.

Last year, it was run Sept. 20 as the final stakes of the Delaware season. The Kent replaces the $100,000 Sweet and Sassy, a sprint for fillies and mares that was run on Del Cap Day last year. The Sweet and Sassy has been dropped from the schedule.

The local prep for the Delaware Handicap is the Grade 3 Obeah at 1 1/8 miles on June 20. Its purse will be $100,000, a reduction of $50,000 from last year.

In another change, the $300,000 Delaware Oaks has been downgraded from a Grade 2 to a Grade 3 by the American Graded Stakes Committee.

The Delaware Oaks last year was won by Fortune Pearl, who in her only start since that race finished fourth in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga, won by Stopchargingmaria. The Delaware Oaks runner-up, Joint Return, finished second in the Alabama.

The 11-race stakes schedule at Delaware Park will be worth $2 million this year, $100,000 less than in 2014. The 81-day season begins May 16 and continues through Oct. 17.