08/18/2011 12:36PM

Santa Anita autumn stakes slate similar to Oak Tree's


The inaugural Santa Anita autumn meeting, which runs from Sept. 30 to Nov. 6, has a list of familiar names among its 22 stakes, as the Arcadia, Calif., track takes over Southern California’s fall dates from the Oak Tree Racing Association.

The autumn meeting’s first weekend, Oct. 1-2, includes five Grade 1 races that are part of the Breeders’ Cup’s Challenge series offering a fees-paid berth to the winner for Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs in November. Those races are the Goodwood, Lady’s Secret, Norfolk, Oak Leaf, and Yellow Ribbon stakes.

On Oct. 8, the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes for sprinters is another Challenge series race for the Breeders’ Cup.

This fall, the Oak Tree Racing Association is not running a race meeting for the first time since its formation in 1969. In the spring, Santa Anita management was awarded the autumn racing dates that had typically gone to Oak Tree, leading to the launch of the autumn meeting

Earlier this year, Santa Anita and Oak Tree reached a financial agreement for Santa Anita to use Oak Tree’s stakes, notably the prep races for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita this fall. The financial arrangement allows Oak Tree, a not-for-profit organization, to continue its donations to a variety of racing-related charities.

Two California Cup races have been omitted from the schedule, the Matron and the Mile. The California Cup, the showcase event for statebreds, has been reduced to five stakes and four overnight races, with the $175,000 Classic purse increased by $25,000 and shifted from the main track to 1 1/8 miles on turf. The $125,000 Distaff has had its purse increased by $25,000 and will be run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

The Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship, a prep for the BC Turf, was a Grade 1 last year, but is a Grade 2 this year. As a result, the purse has been cut by $100,000, to $150,000.

Four overnight races will have $65,000 purses, an increase of $10,000 from 2010.