10/31/2016 4:40PM

Santa Anita Handicap purse cut to $750,000 for 2017

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap will be worth $750,000 in 2017, down from $1 million the last two years, and the Grade 1 American Oaks has been moved from the spring to late December of this year as part of a 61-race stakes schedule for the 2016-17 winter-spring meeting at Santa Anita.

The winter-spring meet runs from Dec. 26 to April 9 and is the first of two meetings at Santa Anita in the first six months of the year. The track will run a spring-summer meeting from April 14 to July 4.

The richest race of the winter-spring meeting will be the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8.

The Santa Anita Handicap purse was $1 million from 1986 to 2009 and in 2015-16. The race was worth $750,000 from 2010-14.

Rick Hammerle, Santa Anita vice president and racing secretary, said the reduction to the Big Cap purse was made so the track could run five races omitted from the first half of 2016.

The $300,000 American Oaks, run at 1 1/4 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies, was previously run in the summer or late spring and has been shifted to Dec. 31.

The other stakes being run during the winter-spring meeting that were omitted from Santa Anita’s stakes schedule earlier this year are the Precisionist Stakes for older horses on dirt, the Wilshire Stakes for females on turf, the Los Angeles Stakes for main-track sprinters, and the Santa Barbara Stakes for females on turf.

There are nine Grade 1 races during the meet, including two $300,000 races at seven furlongs on opening day – the Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds and the La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

There are three Grade 1 races on March 11 – the Big Cap, the $400,000 Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs, and the $400,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf. The program also includes the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes, a Grade 2 for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles that is a key prep for the Santa Anita Derby.

Purses were cut for four other stakes at the winter-spring meeting. The Grade 3 La Canada Stakes for fillies and mares on Jan. 14 was halved to $100,000 after the race was downgraded from Grade 2 status. The Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes for older horses on Feb. 4 was cut from $500,000 to $300,000, while the Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies was cut from $300,000 to $200,000. The Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes on March 18, the meeting’s top race for older fillies and mares, was cut from $500,000 to $400,000. The race was worth $400,000 in 2015.