08/17/2005 11:00PM

Southwest, Rebel get purse boost


On the heels of hosting Smarty Jones and then Afleet Alex the last two winters, Oaklawn Park will put further emphasis on its 3-year-old program in 2006 by boosting the purses for the Rebel and Southwest stakes.

They are part of a 27-race, $4.5 million stakes schedule at the track, which will run 56 days next year, from Jan. 20 through April 15.

Oaklawn raised the purse of the Arkansas Derby to $1 million in 2004, and that won't change for the 2006 season. But the two preps for that race will be richer. The Southwest purse has been increased from $100,000 to $250,000 for 2006, while the Grade 3 Rebel has been kicked up from $250,000 to $300,000.

Smarty Jones won all three of those races in 2004 en route to wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, while Afleet Alex captured the Arkansas Derby this year before going on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

The Southwest, at one mile, will be run on Presidents' Day, Feb. 20, for the first time, with the 1 1/16-mile Rebel to be decided on March 18. The Arkansas Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, will close out the meet April 15.

Other highlights of the 2006 stakes schedule include the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom and the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap, which will share a card on April 8 and herald the start of the Racing Festival of the South, when at least one stakes worth a minimum of $100,000 will be decided on each of the final six days of racing at Oaklawn.

The purse increases to the Rebel and Southwest were made possible in part by revenue from Instant Racing, a parimutuel game that plays like a slot machine. The electronic devices operate in a room on the first floor of the grandstand at Oaklawn.

2006 stakes schedule

Fri.,Jan. 20The Dixieland3YO5 1/2 furlongs$50,000
Sat.,Jan. 21American BeautyF&M, 4YO & Up6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Jan. 28Dixie Belle3YO F6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Feb. 4King Cotton4YO & Up6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Feb. 11Essex Handicap (G3)4YO & Up1 1/16 miles100,000
Sat.,Feb. 18PippinF&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles50,000
Sun.,Feb. 19Martha Washington3YO F1 mile50,000
Mon.,Feb. 20Southwest3YO1 mile250,000
Sat.,Feb. 25Mountain Valley3YO6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,March 4Spring FeverF&M, 4YO & Up5 1/2 furlongs50,000
Sat.,March 11Azeri Breeders' Cup (G3)F&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles175,000
Sun.,March 12Razorback B.C. Handicap (G3)4YO & Up1 1/16 miles150,000
Sat.,March 18Rebel (G3)3YO1 1/16 miles300,000
Sun.,March 19Hot Springs4YO & Up6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,March 25Honeybee3YO F1 1/16 miles75,000
Sat.,April 1CarouselF&M, 4YO & Up6 furlongs50,000
Sun.,April 2RainbowC&G, 3YO*6 furlongs50,000
Sun.,April 2Rainbow Miss3YO F*6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,April 8Oaklawn Handicap (G2)4YO & Up1 1/8 miles500,000
Sat.,April 8Apple Blossom Handicap (G1)F&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles500,000
Sun.,April 9BayakoaF&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles100,000
Wed.,April 12Fifth Season (G3)4YO & Up1 1/16 miles100,000
Thur.,April 13Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3)3YO & Up6 furlongs150,000
Fri.,April 14Fantasy (G2)3YO F1 1/16 miles250,000
Sat.,April 15Northern Spur Breeders' Cup3YO1 mile100,000
Sat.,April 15Instant Racing Breeders' Cup3YO F1 mile100,000
Sat.,April 15Arkansas Derby (G2)3YO1 1/8 miles1,000,000