11/18/2011 1:55PM

Santa Anita stakes schedule reshuffled

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Santa Anita has increased the purses for eight stakes and cut the purse for one important race at its winter-spring meeting, which runs from Dec. 26 through April 22, 2012.

The richest races of the meeting will be worth $750,000 – the Santa Anita Handicap on March 3 and Santa Anita Derby on April 7. The purse for the Santa Anita Derby is down $250,000 from 2011, but equal to the prize offered from 1997-99, and from 2001 through 2010.

The purses of four Grade1 races have been raised $50,000, to $300,000 – the Malibu, La Brea, and Santa Monica stakes and the Santa Anita Oaks. The purses of four Grade 2 races have been raised $50,000, to $200,000 – the San Antonio, Santa Maria, San Carlos, and San Felipe stakes.

Four races from the 2010-2011 calendar will not be run – the El Encino for 4-year-old fillies, the San Luis Obispo on turf, the La Habra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on turf, and the Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters. The La Puente Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf is not on the schedule but will be run as an overnight stakes.

The El Encino had been part of the La Canada series for 4-year-old fillies. With that race no longer being run, the $150,000 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies has been moved forward from its customary date in early February to Jan. 22.

The Santa Anita Oaks has been pushed back approximately three weeks from its customary date in early March, to March 31. The race will serve as the last major prep in California for the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 4.

The Santa Anita Oaks is part of a program that features two new $200,000 stakes for statebred 3-year-old sprinters – the Echo Eddie for males and the Evening Jewel stakes for fillies.