02/27/2009 12:00AM

Manitoba Derby trimmed; Derby Trial eliminated

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The Assiniboia Downs meeting, which opens on May 10, will offer 32 stakes races worth a total of $1,165,000. The track has trimmed the purses of several stakes and dropped another from the schedule.

The purse for the Aug. 3 Manitoba Lotteries Derby, the showpiece of the 65-day session, will be $75,000, a drop of $25,000 from recent years. The purses for five other open stakes have been reduced from $50,000 to $30,000.

"We had to chop a little bit," said Ray Miller, Assiniboia's racing secretary. "We're hurting in this economy like everybody else."

Notably missing from the stakes schedule this year is the Derby Trial, which long has been the major prep for the Manitoba Derby. The $30,000 Harry Jeffrey, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds, has been moved to July 11 to serve as the major Manitoba Derby prep.

Returning to the schedule this year are the Graduation and Osiris, both of which are $30,000 races for 2-year-olds.

"The 2-year-old population didn't have a lot of targets to run at," said Miller. "Allowance races for $20,000 didn't seem to cut it."

Assiniboia Downs has discontinued Sunday racing, with the exception of the opening-day card. Wednesday is now a regular racing day, and many stakes now will be run on Friday evenings.

The Golden Boy, a $30,000 race for 3-year-olds, opens the stakes schedule on June 3.

The 65-day meeting winds up Sept.o12 with a stakes tripleheader comprising the $75,000 Gold Breeders' Cup, the $50,000 Winnipeg Futurity, and the $50,000 J.W. Sifton.