03/27/2009 12:00AM

Philadelphia stakes slate similar to last year


Philadelphia Park has done very little tinkering with its stakes schedule for 2009.

The Bensalem, Pa., track has retained all 11 of its major open stakes at the exact purse levels from 2008. That list is headed by the Gradeo2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Labor Day and the Grade 2, $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies on Oct. 3.

The remaining nine stakes for open company are worth between $200,000 and $250,000.

With the exception of two South Carolina Residence restricted stakes late in the season, Philly Park's remaining 17 stakes will be for Pennsylvania-breds.

Twelve of the statebred stakes will be worth $75,000. The other five will be part of the Sept. 19 Pennsylvania's Day at the Races card, which will be topped by the first running of the $200,000 Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association's Distaff for filly and mare sprinters and the $125,000 Smarty Jones Classic for 3-year-olds.

Four stakes have been dropped from the 2009 Pennsylvania's Day at the Races card: the Ambassador of Luck and the Northern Fling, both for female sprinters; the seven-furlong Captain My Captain for older males; and the Flatterer Steeplechase.

Unlike last season, when the stakes schedule began with three minor races during January and February, Philly Park's first stakes of 2009 will not take place until May 9.