02/08/2008 1:00AM

Stakes schedule worth slightly less


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs on Thursday released the stakes schedules for the 2008 spring and fall meets with slightly lower total purses due partly to two races being eliminated from the schedule.

In all, 45 stakes will be run this year at the Louisville track, with the 134th Kentucky Derby on May 3 being the highlight. Total stakes purses are expected to be $11 million, down from the record $11.3 million offered last year.

Two races, the $100,000 Open Mind and $100,000 Very Subtle, have been put "on hiatus," according to a track release. In addition, purses were reduced for four races: the $200,000 Firecracker Breeders' Cup (formerly $250,000), the $100,000 Aegon Turf Sprint (was $150,000); the $125,000 Aristides BC (was $150,000), and the $175,000 Northern Dancer BC (was $200,000).

Two races have had their purses increased by $50,000 for this year: the $150,000 Alysheba and $200,000 Mrs. Revere.

The graded stakes count will increase by one this year at Churchill, from 37 to 38, after the Commonwealth Turf, set for Nov. 9, was upgraded to a Grade 3. The spring meet will feature 26 graded races, and the fall will have 12.

The distance of the July 6 Locust Grove, a turf race, has been shortened from 1 1/8 miles to a mile.

The 45-day spring meet runs Aprilo26 to July 6, and the 26-day fall meet goes from Oct. 26 to Nov. 29.