04/10/2004 12:00AM

Oaklawn gets 55 dates for 2005


Oaklawn Park was awarded 55 days of racing for 2005 during an Arkansas Racing Commission meeting on Saturday. The meet will run from Jan. 21 through April 16. The number of dates is the same as this year, but the meet will end a week later so the Arkansas Derby will once again fall three weeks before the Kentucky Derby, which next year will be held on May 7.

Oaklawn will race on a Friday-through-Sunday basis from Jan. 21 to Feb. 13, then resume a Wednesday-through-Sunday racing schedule through the end of the meet. There are two exceptions to that schedule. Oaklawn will race on Monday, Feb. 21, and be dark on Wednesday,

Feb. 23, and there will be no racing on March 27, which is Easter.

In other business, the commission agreed to meet within the next three weeks to hear an appeal by trainer Darrell Vienna regarding a bumping incident in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 3. The hearing will be held in Little Rock, Ark.

Vienna, who trains third-place finisher Star Parade, is appealing a decision by the Oaklawn board of stewards not to disqualify second-place finisher Wild Spirit for an incident involving Star Parade entering the stretch. John McKee rode Star Parade and claimed foul against Wild Spirit, and the stewards launched an inquiry into the incident following the race but kept the order of finish unchanged.

The appeal does not concern Azeri, the Apple Blossom winner.