03/08/2002 12:00AM

Stampede stakes get boost

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TORONTO, Ontario - The $100,000 Alberta Derby, the richest race and the only graded race on the Stampede Park calendar, heads a list of 12 stakes scheduled to be run this year at the Calgary, Alberta, racetrack.

The purses for the first eight stakes on the schedule, beginning with the May 4 Stampede Park Sprint Championship, have been raised by $10,000 to $40,000. But Barry McGrath, Stampede Park racing secretary, said that their actual increase in value will be less than $10,000 because the stakes were added-money offerings last year and now are guaranteed.

"Before, any added money from nominations and starting fees just went onto the purse," said McGrath. "Now, that money will just go into the general purse account."

McGrath credits the increases to revenue from slot machines, which are located in a casino on the grounds.

"It's not a huge amount of money, but we wanted to do something with the stakes," said McGrath. "Last year, we concentrated on our overnight money."

The Alberta Derby, a Grade 3 race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, will be run June 15, the penultimate day of a 43-day meeting that begins April 5.

Racing will be conducted Fridays through Sundays, on Wednesdays beginning April 17, and on the holiday Monday, May 20.