03/10/2009 12:00AM

Stakes take hit to maintain overnight purses


Reacting to the poor economy, Hollywood Park has cut $1.5 million and three graded stakes from its stakes schedule for the upcoming spring-summer meeting, which runs from April 22 to July 19.

The stakes eliminated and their 2008 purses are the $250,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf, the $100,000 Hawthorne Handicap for females over 1 1/16 miles, and the $100,000 Will Rogers Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile on turf. The races could be restored in 2010, according to Martin Panza, vice-president of racing.

The two richest races of 2008 - the American Oaks and Hollywood Gold Cup - have been cut by $50,000, to $700,000 each. In addition, the CashCall Mile, which was run for $750,000 last year, no longer carries the sponsor's designation after the conclusion of a three-year arrangement, and will be run for $250,000 as the Royal Heroine Mile on July 11.

In addition, the Swaps Stakes for 3-year-olds on July 18 has been cut $50,000, to $300,000.

"The deductions will help keep overnight purses at or near their 2008 levels," Panza said.

The stakes schedule comprises 49 races, down from 55 in 2008. Three $75,000 races from 2008 are not on the 2009 schedule - the Quicken Tree for statebreds over 1 1/2 miles on turf, the Alydar Stakes for 3-year-olds, and the Valkyr for statebreds over six furlongs.

Overall, purses were cut from 14 stakes, including the Grade 2 American Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf, which has been reduced $100,000, to $150,000. One stakes purse was increased. The Round Table Handicap over 1 3/4 miles on turf will be worth $100,000, a gain of $25,000.