03/05/2007 12:00AM

Sixteen stakes get $5,000 increase

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Assiniboia Downs will offer 31 stakes worth a total of $1.28 million at a 70-day meeting that begins on May 5 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

"We've devoted a little more money to the stakes program," said Ray Miller, racing secretary at Assiniboia Downs, which offered 30 stakes worth $1.25 million last year.

"We wanted to have at least one stakes race in each division where they can get some black type, so we bumped some purses up and pulled some back."

The North American members of the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers raised the minimum purse to qualify for black type this year to $45,000. The purses for 16 Assiniboia stakes have been upped to that level from $40,000.

The purses for six stakes have been cut from $40,000 to $30,000 and the CTHS Sales, run as one $40,000 race last year, will go as two divisions this year worth $30,000 apiece.

The $100,000 Manitoba Lotteries Derby, the perennial highlight of the Assiniboia Downs meeting, will anchor a four-race stakes program on Canada's Civic Holiday card on Aug. 6.

The Debutante has been moved back to join that holiday card, and the Assiniboia Oaks, previously run in September, has swapped places with the Jack Hardy to become part of the Manitoba Derby undercard.

The Winnipeg Futurity, run on the holiday Monday program last summer, has been moved back to the final day of the meeting, Sept. 23.

The main track opened for training last week, and Miller said approximately 200 horses were on the grounds this week.