07/31/2014 10:20AM

Oaklawn Park stakes schedule worth record $6.6 million

Tom Keyser
Oaklawn Park will offer a record $6.6 million in purses for its 2015 stakes program.

The Oaklawn Park stakes program for 3-year-olds that this year played host to Bayern and Ride On Curlin will be even stronger for 2015.

The Hot Springs, Ark., track has boosted the purse for the Grade 2 Rebel to $750,000, a $150,000 bump that makes the race the second-richest offering of the meet behind the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby. Oaklawn announced the increase Thursday, when it released its 31-race stakes schedule, which is worth a record $6.6 million.

Oaklawn will open Jan. 9, with the 2015 season to run through April 11.

Oaklawn Park 2015 Stakes Schedule

The Rebel, at 1 1/16 miles, will be run March 14. It’s long been part of an Oaklawn program for 3-year-olds that opens with the $150,000 Smarty Jones at a mile Jan. 19 and continues with the Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 16 and the Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 11.

“The timing of the Rebel and the quality of its field in recent years makes it an important Triple Crown race prep in its own right, and therefore, we felt it was deserving of a purse increase,” said David Longinotti, director of racing for Oaklawn.

The Rebel will again share a card with the Grade 2 Azeri for fillies and mares and the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap, with the purses for both of those races also boosted. The Azeri is now worth $300,000 after a $100,000 increase, while the Razorback will have a purse of $250,000 after a bump of $50,000. The three stakes were grouped on the same card for the first time last year to serve as a preview day for the track’s annual Racing Festival of the South.

The Festival, a weeklong run of major stakes, opens with the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy for 3-year-old fillies April 4 and includes the Grade 3, $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 9; the Grade 1, $600,000 Apple Blossom for fillies and mares April 10; and the Grade 2, $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 11.