03/19/2007 11:00PM

Stakes purses more than doubled



The impact of slots money is clearly evident in Philadelphia Park's 2007 stakes schedule.

Not only has the number of stakes the Bensalem, Pa., track will present this season nearly doubled from a year ago, from 20 to 35, but also the cumulative purses for added-money events rose 142 percent, from $1.77 million to $4.28 million.

Among the most significant changes in the schedule are two new $100,000 stakes, 11 additional stakes for Pennsylvania-breds, a six-figure race named in honor of 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, and a $200,000 stakes designed as a prep for fillies and mares pointing to the new Breeders' Cup race for female sprinters.

Earlier this year, Philly Park announced that its premier event, the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, would be worth $1 million for the first time and the Grade 2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap for 3-year-old fillies was moving to Sept. 22 with a purse of $500,000.

Most of the statebred stakes received a $10,000 purse boost to $60,000. One exception is the $125,000 Smarty Jones Classic, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds-and-up that will be among eight stakes on the Pennsylvania Day at the Races program on July 28. Previously, there were only six statebred stakes on the card. In addition to the Smarty Jones, the other new stakes is the $100,000 Northern Fling Handicap for fillies and mares going six furlongs.

Two established open races for females, the $100,000 My Juliet, previously run in June, and the $75,000 Steve Van Buren Handicap on Labor Day, have been combined into the six-furlong, $200,000 My Juliet Breeders' Cup on Sept. 29. The revised My Juliet is designed as a stepping-stone for horses point to the Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park a month later.