02/12/2002 12:00AM

Stakes purses set record

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MIAMI, Fla. - Calder Race Course will offer a record $8.3 million in stakes purses during its expanded racing season this year. A total of $5.5 million in stakes purses will be offered during the Calder meet and another $2.8 million will be up for grabs during the Tropical-at-Calder meet.

Calder will open its doors on April 26, four weeks earlier than usual, with the spring-summer meet running through Oct. 25. The Tropical meet begins Oct. 26 and continues through Jan. 2, 2003.

"This is the most money we've ever offered," said racing secretary Bob Umphrey. "And we've had three stakes upgraded for this year."

The upgraded stakes are the Princess Rooney Handicap (Grade 3 to Grade 2), Miami Mile (ungraded to Grade 3), and Memorial Day Handicap (ungraded to Grade 3).

The highlights of the Calder meet include the $1.65 million Festival of the Sun program on Oct. 12, which includes nine stakes. Among them are the $400,000 finales of the Florida Stallion Series, the In Reality for 2-year-old colts and geldings and the My Dear Girl for 2-year-old fillies.

The $1.4 million Summit of Speed will be presented on July 13 and includes the $400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap and $400,000 Princess Rooney Handicap.

The 53-day Tropical meeting will be highlighted by the Grand Slam I (Dec. 7) and Grand Slam II (Dec. 28) programs as well as the inaugural running of the Florida Million on Nov. 16. The Florida Million comprises six Florida-bred stakes with purses totaling $1 million.