01/30/2008 1:00AM

Will Rogers adds four Thoroughbred stakes


Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa, Okla., will introduce four stakes for Thoroughbreds during its 44-date mixed meet that opens Feb. 23. The stakes are the first for Thoroughbreds since the track reopened for racing in 2006.

Will Rogers now operates 250 electronic gaming machines. The terminals came on line late in 2005.

Gaming revenue has helped Will Rogers expand its stakes schedule to include four sprints for Thoroughbreds. The $50,000 Route 66 for 3-year-olds and up and the $50,000 Wilma Mankiller for fillies and mares in the same age category will both be run over six furlongs on May 3.

A second set of Thoroughbred stakes will share a program on May 17. The $35,000 Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs Classic is for Oklahoma-bred fillies and mares. The $35,000 OTA Classic is for 3-year-olds and up bred in Oklahoma. Both races will be run at six furlongs, and are designed as preps for the Oklahoma Classics Day program held each year at Remington Park.

In all, there will be 11 stakes this meet at Will Rogers, which also races Quarter Horses and Paints. Purses are budgeted at $148,000 a day, with $110,000 of that amount for Thoroughbreds.

Among the trainers officials expect for the new meet are Joe Lucas, Joe Offolter, Roger Engel, Randy Oberlander, Daniel Kenny, and Carmelo Mendoza.

Will Rogers will race through May 27.