Churchill Downs has unveiled a $9.025 million stakes schedule for its Spring and Fall racing meets in 2010 headed by the 136th renewals of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks and $500,000-added Clark Handicap among its six Grade I offerings.
Stakes purses for the historic track’s 42-day April 24-July 4 Spring Meet total $7.1 million and $1.925 million for the 20-day Fall Meet that runs from Oct. 31-Nov. 27. The schedule of stakes events features six Grade I events after the American Graded Stakes Committee restored the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare to Grade I status for the first time since 2006. Three of those Grade I events are scheduled on Kentucky Derby Day on Saturday, May 1, which also includes the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and $300,000-added Humana Distaff. The $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April 30 and the $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap on Saturday, June 12 are the other Grade I events contested at Churchill Downs this year (not including Breeders’ Cup World Championship races).
The 2010 Churchill Downs stakes schedule includes 40 races, all but one of which are graded events. Along with the six Grade I races, the track will offer 12 Grade II stakes races and 21 contests with Grade III status.
The Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap, respectively, head three special event days that consist of five or more stakes races with total purses in excess of $1 million. The biggest of those days is Kentucky Derby Day, which includes six stakes races with total purses of $3.35 million. Kentucky Oaks Day features the main event and five other stakes races with total purses of $1.325 million. And five stakes races set for Stephen Foster Handicap Day carry total purses of $1.15 million.
Churchill Downs’ popular of “Stars of Tomorrow” programs devoted exclusively to 2-year-olds are scheduled for the opening and closing days of the Fall Meet. And 2010 marks the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to the historic Louisville track for a record seventh time – and for the first time as a two-day event – on Nov. 5-6. One Churchill Downs stakes race is scheduled daily over Breeders’ Cup Weekend, Thursday, Nov. 4 through Sunday, Nov. 7.
“Our goal every year is to provide our fans and horsemen with a high quality stakes schedule that offers compelling and competitive opportunities for horses in every division,” said Don Richardson, senior vice president of Racing. “We believe the 2010 stakes schedule at Churchill Downs – topped by the historic 136th renewals of the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Clark Handicap among its six Grade I offerings – is one of our strongest schedules ever, with all but one race having achieved recognition as a graded race from the American Graded Stakes Committee. It is going to be an exciting year with the return of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and six racing sessions scheduled under our new permanent lights, and we look forward to working with owners and trainers throughout North America in an effort to bring their most talented horses to Churchill Downs to compete in the stakes races that will be run beneath the Twin Spires.”
Several races on the 2010 schedule have undergone name, purse or distance changes – including significant changes for the final Kentucky Derby prep race and the return of the name of the great mare La Troienne to the schedule. Those changes include:
The four Churchill Downs stakes races scheduled to support the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup World Championships include $100,000-added River City Handicap (GIII) on Thursday, Nov. 4; the Ack Ack Handicap on Friday, Nov. 5; the $150,000-added Chilukki (GII) on Saturday, Nov. 6; and the $100,000-added Cardinal (GIII) on Sunday, Nov. 7.