11/16/2010 3:08PM

Santa Anita Derby purse boosted to $1 million

Benoit & Associates
The Santa Anita Derby, won this year by Sidney's Cnady, will be worth $1 million in 2011.

The Santa Anita Derby has been enriched from $750,000 to $1 million for next year’s running on April 9, part of an enhancement to the purse structure of Santa Anita’s prep races to the Triple Crown, the track announced Tuesday.

The boosting of the Santa Anita Derby is part of a $450,000 stimulus package to Santa Anita’s stakes races for 3-year-olds at the upcoming winter-spring meet, which opens Dec. 26. The track also has boosted the purses of two Santa Anita Derby prep races – the Robert Lewis and the San Felipe – from $150,000 to $250,000.

Not only will the money go toward helping California-based horses get into the Kentucky Derby, but it could help lure horses to the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes. The Preakness offers a bonus of $5.5 million if a horse can win a series of races under the banner of MI Developments, which owns Santa Anita and Pimlico, the home of the Preakness.

Earnings in graded stakes are the criteria for starting in the Derby if more than the maximum 20 horses enter the race, which has become commonplace in recent years.

“It’s always tight for horses to get into the Derby, so this helps, and we’re doing things in conjunction with the Preakness 5.5 bonus,” said Rick Hammerle, racing secretary at Santa Anita. “This should bring far more attention to our program.”

If a 3-year-old uses the Santa Anita route to the Triple Crown, he would be eligible to the Preakness bonus if he wins the Santa Anita Derby and one of two earlier prep races, the Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 12 or the San Felipe on March 12. A horse also could mix and match preps at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park, which is also owned by MI Developments.

Other highlights of the meet include a pair of Grade 1 races, the Malibu and La Brea, on opening day, and the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.

Santa Anita has become the first track to honor the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel with a stakes race, having renamed the San Gorgonio, which will be run Jan. 1.

“Bobby won the San Gorgonio multiple times,” Hammerle said. “We wanted to name a race after him, and if you had to pick any category in which he excelled, and there were many, fillies going long on the turf would be it.”