07/12/2016 2:46PM

Laurel adjusts stakes schedule, adds $150,000 in purses

Barbara D. Livingston
Laurel Park will have seven major stakes days during its fall meeting.

A number of notable changes have been made to the stakes schedule at this fall’s Laurel Park meet.

The Maryland Jockey Club has added five stakes to the schedule, increased the purses of three races, and decreased the value of three others. The total value of this year’s stakes schedule is $3.25 million – not counting Maryland Million Day or Claiming Crown Preview Day – an increase of $150,000 from 2015.

There are seven major stakes days during the meet, which include all but two of the fall meet’s stakes. The Laurel fall meet runs Sept. 9 to Dec. 31.

“We’re trying to group things together rather than scatter them one a week,” said Sal Sinatra, president of the Maryland Jockey Club.

The most notable change is a purse cut to the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, which has been upgraded to a Grade 3 for 2016. The De Francis Dash lost its graded status after not being run in 2008 and 2010. It was brought back as a $150,000 race in 2011 and has had a purse of $350,000 the last four years. The six-furlong De Francis will be worth $250,000 this season.

Sinatra said he hopes to be able to restore the De Francis purse in the future.

“It was a horsemen’s decision to use that $100,000 in other ways,” Sinatra said. “I want to keep increasing the grade on the De Francis, and hopefully we can increase the purse going forward.”

The Commonwealth Derby and the Commonwealth Turf Cup, a pair of Grade 2 races, were created last year to hold the grades of the Virginia Derby and Colonial Cup, races that were previously held at Colonial Downs in Virginia. The Commonwealth Derby had a purse of $400,000 last year, and the Commonwealth Cup was worth $250,000. The races were funded by the Virginia Equine Alliance. Both races will have purses of $200,000 this year.

The purse of the Grade 3 Commonwealth Oaks, a race similar to the former Virginia Oaks, remains at $150,000 this year.

“We are partnering with the Virginia Equine Alliance on the Commonwealth Derby and Oaks for 2016 and 2017,” Sinatra said. “Those races will go back to Virginia one day. The Virginia horsemen didn’t have the money to fund the Turf Cup this year, so I asked if we could have it. So that Grade 2 is now our race.”

The Maryland Futurity and Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship have had their purses doubled from $50,000 to $100,000. The Jennings has had its purse increased from $50,000 to $75,000. All three races are for Maryland-breds.

The five added stakes will be worth $75,000 each. They are the Shine Again, Politely, Challedon, Geisha, and the Howard M. Bender Memorial, named for the longtime Maryland breeder who died last September.

“The horsemen saw some gaps on the schedule for certain divisions and suggested we created some stakes to fill gaps,” Sinatra said.

Several races have changed position on the calendar. The $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup, which was run Oct. 31 last year, will now become part of a six-stakes card Sept. 10.

The Maryland Futurity and Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, which were run Dec. 26 last year, have been moved to Dec. 10.

The $100,000 Marylander and $100,000 Gin Talking, which were run Dec. 5 last year, will now be run Dec. 26.

Maryland Million Day will be Oct. 22. Claiming Crown Preview Day will be Nov. 6, the day after the Breeders’ Cup.

  TURF FESTIVAL DAY              
9/10/2016 LAUREL FUTURITY   2YO   5 1/2 Furlongs Turf $75,000  
  SELIMA   2YO Fillies & Mares 5 1/2 Furlongs Turf $75,000  
  LADY BALTIMORE (LISTED)   3YO & Up Fillies & Mares 1 1/16 Miles Turf $150,000  
  LAUREL DASH (LISTED)   3YO & Up   6 Furlongs Turf $100,000  
  LAUREL TURF CUP (LISTED)   3YO & Up   1 1/2 Miles Turf $100,000  
  SHINE AGAIN   3YO & Up Fillies & Mares 7 Furlongs   $75,000 Nonwinners of a sweepstakes
  COMMONWEALTH DAY              
9/24/2016 COMMONWEALTH DERBY G2 3YO   1 1/8 Miles Turf $200,000  
  COMMONWEALTH TURF CUP G2 3YO & Up   1 Mile Turf $200,000  
  COMMONWEALTH OAKS G3 3YO Fillies 1 1/8 Miles Turf $150,000  
  JAMESTOWN   2YO   5 1/2 Furlongs Turf $60,000 REG. VA. BREDS/ VA. SIRED
  PUNCH LINE   3YO & Up   5 1/2 Furlongs Turf $60,000 REG. VA. BREDS/ VA. SIRED
  OAKLEY STAKE   3YO & Up Fillies & Mares 5 1/2 Furlongs Turf $60,000 REG. VA. BREDS/ VA. SIRED
  BERT ALLEN   3YO & Up   1 1/16 Miles Turf $60,000 REG. VA. BREDS/ VA. SIRED
  BROOKMEADE STAKE   3YO & Up Fillies & Mares 1 1/16 Miles Turf $60,000 REG. VA. BREDS/ VA. SIRED
10/1/2016 POLITELY   3YO & Up Fillies & Mares 6 Furlongs   $75,000 MD-bred / MD-sired
  CHALLEDON   3YO & Up   7 furlongs   $75,000 Nonwinners of a sweepstakes
10/22/2016 MARYLAND MILLION DAY              
  FALL FESTIVAL DAY              
11/19/2016 FRANK J DEFRANCIS DASH G3 3YO & Up   6 Furlongs   $250,000  
  JAMES F. LEWIS   2YO   6 Furlongs   $100,000  
  SMART HALO   2YO Fillies 6 Furlongs   $100,000  
  RICHARD SMALL   3 YO & up   1 1/8 Miles   $100,000  
  CITY OF LAUREL (LISTED)   3YO   7 Furlongs   $100,000  
  SAFELY KEPT   3YO Fillies 7 Furlongs   $100,000  
  GEISHA   3YO & Up Fillies & Mares 1 Mile   $75,000 Md. Bred/Md. Sired
12/10/2016 WILLA ON THE MOVE   3 YO & up Fillies and Mares 6 Furlongs   $100,000  
  MARYLAND JUVENILE FUTURITY   2yo   7 furlongs   $100,000 MD-bred / MD-sired
  MARYLAND JUVENILE FILLY CHAMPIONSHIP   2yo Fillies 7 furlongs   $100,000 MD-bred / MD-sired
  HOWARD M. BENDER MEMORIAL   3YO & up   6 furlongs   $75,000 Md. Bred/Md. Sired
12/31/2016 THIRTY EIGHT GO GO   3YO & Up Filies and Mares 1 Mile   $100,000  
  JENNINGS   3YO & Up   1 Mile   $75,000 MD-bred / MD-sired
  THE MARYLANDER   2YO   7 Furlongs   $100,000  
  GIN TALKING   2YO Fillies 7 Furlongs   $100,000  
  DAVE'S FRIEND   3YO & Up   6 Furlongs   $100,000