11/19/2014 12:49PM

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.