11/19/2014 1:49PM

Santa Anita Handicap back up to $1 million


Santa Anita has raised the purses of two leading stakes for older horses – the Santa Anita Handicap and San Antonio Stakes – but eliminated the Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds for the track’s upcoming winter-spring meeting, which runs from Dec. 26 to April 19.

The Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 7 will be worth $1 million, an increase of $250,000 from 2014. The Santa Anita Handicap, run at 1 1/4 miles on dirt, offered a purse of $1 million from 1986 to 2009.

The San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 7, a leading prep for the Big Cap, will be worth a record $500,000 this year, an increase of $200,000. The Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes is run at 1 1/8 miles, and may serve as a prep race for some Southern California-based runners being pointed for the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse on March 28.

The increased purse for the San Antonio was funded by the cancellation of the Strub Stakes, which was restricted to 4-year-olds. The Strub was run in early February at 1 1/8 miles for many years as a prep for the Big Cap, but was shifted to 1 1/16 miles and run in January this year.

The Strub is the only major race to be removed from the stakes calendar for the 2014-15 season. The $100,000 Midnight Lute Stakes, a Grade 3 race at 6 1/2 furlongs, has been added to the schedule and will be run on Dec. 27. The race was previously run as the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes for sprinters at now-closed Hollywood Park.

Three other races have had purses increased from last season, including two run on March 7: the Frank Kilroe Mile and the San Felipe Stakes. The Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf will be worth $400,000, an increase of $50,000 from 2014. The Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds will be worth a record $400,000, an increase of $100,000. California Chrome won the 2014 San Felipe before winning the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness Stakes.

The California Cup Sprint for statebreds on Jan. 24 has been increased $25,000, to $150,000.

The Cal Cup Sprint is part of a day of five stakes for statebreds on a card that includes the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes for female sprinters. During the four-month meeting, there are seven days with at least three stakes, including opening day, which includes two Grade 1 races for 3-year-olds – the Malibu Stakes and La Brea Stakes. The Dec. 26 card also includes the Mathis Brothers Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf, which was previously run as the Sir Beaufort Stakes.

One other race has been renamed. The Potrero Grande Stakes for sprinters in April will now be known as the Kona Gold Stakes.

FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
Who the h are the Mathis Brothers .I know Johnny Mathis (the singer) and Andy Mathis (the NorCal trainer)but I doubt theyre brothers,at least one of them.
Thomas McDonald More than 1 year ago
Racing in California must really be in trouble if Frank Stonach has to cancel one stake to fund another. Wasn't it just last week that DRF reported that Doc Allred at Los Alamitos was canceling the Champions of Champions.
Thomas McDonald More than 1 year ago
History and tradition mean nothing to Frank Stronach. But, he's more than happy to give us idiotic names like Frontrunner or Chandalier or Rodeo Drive that no one knows.
Chas More than 1 year ago
Instead of killing off the Strub they should of changed the conditions from 4-yr. only to 4 & up and leave it on the 1st Saturday of Feb...and use the San Antonio in April or May to prep for the Gold Cup in June...then again this is the same brain trust that sells out the name of a stake race and changes names of races to names of a track restaurant(Front Runner), a private room, high price former Turf Club(Chandlier) and still can't find a race to name for Lady Secret after taking her name off a race...
tencenticielo H More than 1 year ago
A) The Gold Cup already has its own preps in the G3 Precisionist [aka the Mervyn Leroy] and the G2 Californian. The announced stakes schedule stops at the point where the old SA meet would end, otherwise they would be listed as well. B) When a graded stake makes a significant change in either the distance (mainly switching from a sprint to a route or vice versa) or eligibility conditions, the stake loses its grade. So if the Strub became a race for 4yo & up, it would lose its graded status. This happened to the Colonial Turf Cup a couple of years ago. It used to be the prep for the Virginia Derby, but it was changed to a race for older horses and lost its rade (I think Rahystrada won it that year. I know Dark Cove was in it).
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Well-informed posts. Thanks for the background. Enough of this renaming of classic, historic stakes, though. Stronach really seems to have no sense of history.
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
Upping the purse for two races is not going to change the small fields in the claiming and allowance categories. Who wants to bet on five and six horse fields? Not me!!!
RunningDog More than 1 year ago
When will they rename the SA Derby the Baffert. Can't be too far off.
John Stahl More than 1 year ago
No thanks. I'm done with California racing after that BC Classic fiasco.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Smart!! Raising the ante by "rallying the troop$" around their tent pole event in times of watered down product.