10/04/2001 11:00PM

Track plans Million Dollar Saturday


The Racing Festival of the South at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., will get under way with a bang next year when the track presents the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap and the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on the same card for the first time.

The April 6 program has been dubbed Million Dollar Saturday and will be one of the high points of the 54-day meet, which runs from Jan. 25 to April 13.

In other major changes to the track's 25-race, $3.25 million stakes schedule next year, the $100,000 Razorback Handicap and the $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup will share a program for the first time on March 16.

Oaklawn has doubled up the stakes in order to present some of its best races to a bigger audience. "Our feeling is the majority of Americans go to the races on Saturday, and therefore, we felt these races get a chance to be seen by more people if they are run on Saturdays," said Oaklawn spokesman Terry Wallace.

In other changes, the $100,000 Carousel, a sprint for fillies and mares that will run as a Breeders' Cup series race for the first time following the discontinuation of the Fifth Season Breeders' Cup, joins the Racing Festival lineup April 7. The six-day Festival closes with the $500,000 Arkansas Derby, a 1 1/8-mile prep for the Kentucky Derby that will be renewed for the 66th time April 13.