07/31/2013 10:30AM

Oaklawn Park: Stakes schedule in 2014 worth a track-record $6.1 million

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Oaklawn Park has increased the minimum purse for its open-company stakes races to $100,000 and created a “Racing Festival of the South Preview Day” that packs the Rebel, Azeri, and Razorback into a single program. Those changes represent the most significant enhancements to a record $6.1 million stakes schedule released Wednesday. The Hot Springs, Ark., track opens for a 57-date meet Jan. 10.

The Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on the closing-day card April 12 will again serve as the centerpiece of the 31-race stakes calendar. It’s also the climax of the meet’s popular 3-year-old program that this year produced Preakness winner Oxbow. The series opens with the $150,000 Smarty Jones at a mile Jan. 20 and continues with the Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 17 and the Grade 2, $600,000 Rebel at 1 1/16 miles on March 15.

The Rebel will share a card next year with the Grade 3 Azeri and the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap. The races are all preps for Oaklawn’s annual Racing Festival of the South, which offers nine major stakes over the final week of the meet.

The Azeri, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares that has been boosted in value from $150,000 to $200,000, is the local stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 11. The Razorback, for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles, also had a purse increase from $150,000 to $200,000. The race is designed to produce starters for the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 12.

Overall, there were purse increases for 19 stakes for the upcoming meet at Oaklawn. Many races have been boosted from $60,000 and $75,000 to the new standard of $100,000. In addition, the meet has set a new $75,000 minimum for Arkansas-bred stakes, with the five restricted races on the calendar up from $60,000.

The Racing Festival, which had been compressed into four dates during the last few seasons, will revert to its traditional weeklong run for 2014. It will launch April 5 with the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy for 3-year-old fillies. Other highlights include the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 10, which has been boosted in value from $250,000 to $300,000.

The Apple Blossom, meanwhile, will share a card with the $100,000 Bachelor for 3-year-olds at six furlongs April 11, while the Arkansas Derby Day card will feature four stakes, including the Oaklawn Handicap.

Last year, the Oaklawn stakes schedule was worth $5.6 million. The increase of more than $500,000 for 2014 is due in part to the success of electronic gaming at the track. Officials expect overnight purses to reach record levels for the upcoming meet.

Cindy Albrecht More than 1 year ago
just around the corner......yee haw
grayposse More than 1 year ago
Oaklawn continues to shine!!!!!! Good job boys!