Louisville, KY (Feb. 7, 2008) -- Churchill Downs has unveiled a $11 million stakes schedule for its Spring and Fall Meets in 2008 that includes 45 stakes events – including a record 38 graded stakes races – headed by the 134th renewals of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI).
The stakes schedule for the April 26-July 6 Spring Meet includes 31 stakes races and total stakes purses of $8.1 million. The 52-day Spring Meet schedule is highlighted by Kentucky Derby Day, which includes six stakes events and total purses of $3.35 million; a Kentucky Oaks Day program that features six stakes events with total purses of $1.35 million; and six stakes races with purses of $1.75 million on the “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” program on June 14 headed by the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).
The Oct. 26-Nov. 29 Fall Meet will feature 14 stakes events with total purses of $2.9 million. The 134th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GII) heads the roster of stakes events for the 26-day autumn racing session under the track’s historic Twin Spires.
A record 38 Churchill Downs stakes races have been accorded graded status by the American Graded Stakes Committee, an increase of one graded race from 2007. The latest race to achieve graded status is the $150,000-added Commonwealth Turf, which will be run as a Grade III event during the Fall Meet. The 2008 schedule will feature five Grade I races, 11 Grade II contests and 22 Grade III events. Twenty-six of 31 Spring Meet stakes races at Churchill Downs will be graded events, while 12 of the Fall Meet’s 14 stakes contests will be graded races.
Along with graded status granted to the Commonwealth Turf, changes from 2007 in this year’s stakes schedule include:
  • Two stakes – the $100,000-added Open Mind, which had been run in the Spring Meet, and the $100,000-added Very Subtle, a fall meet feature, will go on hiatus and will not be run in 2008;
  • Purse increases for the Grade III Alysheba, which will see its value increase from $100,000-added to $150,000-added, and the Grade II Mrs. Revere, which will see its value boosted by $50,000 to $200,000-added;
  • Reduced purses for the $200,000-added Firecracker Breeders’ Cup (GII), a $250,000-added race in 2007; $100,000-added Aegon Turf Sprint (GIII), formerly a $150,000-added event; the Aristides Breeders’ Cup (GIII), which will see its purse drop by $25,000 to $125,000-added; and the $175,000-added Northern Dancer Breeders’ Cup (GIII), which is $25,000 lower than last year; and
  • The distance of the $150,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (GIII), for fillies and mares ages 3 & up on turf, has been reduced from 1 1/8 miles to one mile.

The Churchill Downs Fall Meet will again feature a pair of “Stars of Tomorrow” racing programs devoted exclusively to races for 2-year-olds and each will feature a pair of stakes events. “Stars of Tomorrow I” on Saturday, Nov. 1, will be highlighted by the $150,000-added Pocahontas (GIII) for fillies and the $150,000-added Iroquois (GIII), both of which will be run at one mile. “Stars of Tomorrow II” will close out the meet on Saturday, Nov. 29, and its $250,000-added co-features are the Golden Rod (GII) for fillies and the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII). The distance of both races is 1 1/16 miles.

“Churchill Downs is proud to present a stakes schedule for 2008 that again offers wonderful opportunities to compete against top-notch horses in every age group and division,” said Ben Huffman, racing secretary at Churchill Downs. “We appreciate the efforts of our Churchill Downs-based horsemen and owners and trainers from across North America to support our stakes programs in recent years and we look forward to working with them again as they bring their talented horses to race in stakes competition at the home of the Kentucky Derby.”

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2008. The track’s 2008 Spring Meet begins on April 26. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record six times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.

Click here for the full 2008 stakes schedule

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