02/14/2008 1:00AM

Six stakes official Breeders' Cup preps


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine will offer six Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" races at its 2008 meet, including four turf stakes on a Canadian International Day card that has been moved up to early October and will be televised by ESPN.

"The agreement we entered into with Breeders' Cup was for the whole program of six 'Win and You're In' races," said Steve Lym, Woodbine's racing secretary and director of racing. "The main concern was scheduling the Canadian International so that it leads into the Breeders' Cup, roughly three weeks out."

The Breeders' Cup will be run this year at Santa Anita, on Oct. 24-25.

The debut of Woodbine in the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series, which was announced Thursday by the Woodbine Entertainment Group, is the highlight of a 103-race stakes schedule worth a record total of $22.15 million.

The Grade 1 Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward, has been scheduled for Oct. 4. It will be joined by its regular companion features, the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles and the Grade 2 Nearctic for 3-year-olds and upward at six furlongs. Last year's International was run on Oct. 21.

The fourth "Win and You're In" race on the program will be the Grade 3 Summer, a one-mile race for 2-year-olds that formerly was run on Woodbine Mile Day. The Summer's purse has been upped by $50,000 to $300,000. The International card has been switched to a Saturday from its traditional Sunday date to accommodate the ESPN coverage.

The other "Win and You're In" races here will be run in September.

The Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, a $1 million turf race, will go on Sept. 7. The Grade 3 Natalma, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies, will be run Sept. 14.

The Woodbine Mile card will now include the Northern Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile turf race, and the Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares. The Northern Dancer, which was accorded new Grade 1 status and had its purse upped by $50,000 to $750,000 this year, is being moved from July as part of a shift in turf stakes that was necessitated by the new Canadian International date.

The $300,000 Nijinsky has been moved forward three weeks to Aug. 4 and shortened from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/4 miles. The 1 3/8-mile Sky Classic, which in recent years served as the major local Canadian International prep, now will be run on Oct. 25 and has had its purse slashed by $50,000 to $250,000.

On Oct. 5, a day after the International card, two other Breeders' Cup prep races will be held, the $250,000 Mazarine, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies, and the $250,000 Grey, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.

"The Mazarine and Grey are not part of the 'Win and You're In' program, but we're giving those horses an option to get to the Breeders' Cup," said Lym. "We hope those races will be particularly attractive this year with the Breeders' Cup being run on a synthetic surface."

The turf schedule also has gained a new guaranteed stakes in the Singspiel, a 1 1/2-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward that had been a $100,000 overnight stakes but now will be run as a Grade 3 with a purse of $150,000.

The Singspiel will be one of three stakes on a June 22 card headed by the $1 million Queen's Plate, the first leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Also, a total of 19 open stakes formerly worth $125,000 now will offer purses of $150,000.

"They're being funded by an underpayment in the purse account," said Lym.

Meanwhile, other significant date shifts involve the Achievement, Cup and Saucer, and Coronation Futurity.

The Achievement, a six-furlong race for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds that was being run in late June or early July, will be the first stakes of the meeting on April 12.

The Cup and Saucer and the Coronation Futurity, which are the meeting's premier races for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds, have both been moved back two weeks.

The Cup and Saucer, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, will be run Oct. 26 with the Coronation Futurity, at 1 1/8 miles, scheduled for Nov. 16.