Updated on 09/16/2011 6:49AM

Other stakes take hit to save U.N.

Email

Monmouth Park has trimmed one stakes race and a total of $300,000 in stakes purses from its 2002 meet in order to maintain the $500,000 purse of the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap, according to the stakes schedule released Monday.

Four of the track's Grade 3 races were each targeted for $50,000 cuts. The Red Bank Handicap, Jersey Derby, Sapling Stakes, and Sorority Stakes will each have a purse of $100,000, down from $150,000 last year.

In addition, the Reeve Schley Jr. Stakes, a $100,000 race last year for 3-year-old fillies on turf, has been canceled, giving the New Jersey track a 15-stakes schedule in 2002 worth $3.4 million, compared with 16 stakes worth $3.7 million last year.

Bob Kulina, Monmouth's director of racing, said the track made the cuts to the Grade 3 races rather than jeopardize the image of the United Nations, one of only two Grade 1 races in New Jersey. The other is Monmouth's centerpiece, the Haskell Invitational Handicap, which will be run Aug. 4 with a purse of $1 million.

"We kind of had to rob Peter in order to pay Paul," Kulina said. "We only have two of these in the state, and I felt it was important to shift the money around. We don't want to put the United Nations in jeopardy of losing its grade."

The Reeve Schley Jr. Stakes was downgraded at the end of last year by the American Graded Stakes Committee. Kulina said he may create an overnight stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf to fill in the gap.

"Honestly, the race had been in trouble for years," Kulina said. "With it being downgraded this year, it just didn't work to keep it going."