12/16/2015 11:59AM

Ohio Derby returns to 1 1/8 miles for 2016

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The Ohio Derby will return to 1 1/8 miles when it is contested for the 82nd time in 2016.

ThistleDown announced Wednesday that Ohio’s richest race for 3-year-olds will retain its $500,000 purse and be run on Saturday, June 25, two weeks after the Belmont Stakes.

The Ohio Derby was a nine-furlong race during most of its history, from 1924 to 1959 and from 1965 to 2009. It was contested at 1 1/2 miles from 1876 to 1883 and was run at 1 1/16 miles each of the past five years.

Long a Grade 2 race, the Ohio Derby was downgraded to Grade 3 status in 2010 and lost its grading in 2014.

The shifting of the race from July to June in 2015, along with a purse boost from $300,000 to $500,000, was designed to attract horses exiting the Triple Crown series. This year’s winner, Mr. Z, competed in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

“Last year’s enhanced purse attracted an extraordinary stable of horses, and we expect the Ohio Derby to be even better this year as word has spread throughout the industry that this race is back on the map,” said Patrick Ellsworth, ThistleDown’s racing secretary.