Derby set for May 6
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 13, 2017) — The 143rd running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) are the biggest events on the roster of 34 stakes races that offer $8.84 million in total purses scheduled during Churchill Downs Racetrack’s 38-day Spring Meet from April 29 to June 30.
The Kentucky Derby heads a line-up of seven stakes events on May 6 that features three Grade I events and total purses of $4.15 million. The Kentucky Oaks Day program on May 5 offers six stakes events with combined purses of $2.2 million.
The “Downs After Dark” program, presented Stella Artois and El Jimador, under the lights on June 17 features the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) for 3-year-olds and up which tops a roster of five stakes contests with total purses of $1.1 million.
New additions this year are the pair of graded stakes races for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up that have been moved from Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Ill. They are the 80th running of the $100,000 Matron (GIII), a 1 1/16-mile race on the main track on May 20, and the 28th running of the $100,000 Chicago Handicap (GIII), a seven-furlong race on dirt that will be run on June 24.
Of the 35 stakes races set for the Spring Meet, six have been designated as Grade I events by the Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Along with the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Stephen Foster Handicap, the roster of Grade I events includes the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on grass, the $300,000 Humana Distaff for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at seven furlongs and the $300,000 La Troienne Presented by Spirited Funds, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up.
The schedule includes seven stakes races designated as Grade II events, twelve Grade III stakes races and one listed contest. Thirteen of the races are scheduled to be run over the Matt Winn Turf Course.
The addition of the two Arlington Park stakes races lifted total stakes purses to be offered during the upcoming meet to $8.84 million – an increase of $200,000 from the $8.64 million in stakes purses offered in the 2016 Spring Meet.
Eighteen of the 35 races on the Spring Meet stakes schedule will be run during the six racing days of Kentucky Derby Week that open the meet.
Opening Night includes the third running of the $100,000 William Walker, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds named for one of the African-American jockeys who dominated the early years of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. Also featured that evening will be the Roxelana, a $65,000-added overnight stakes event at six furlongs for fillies and mares ages 3 and up.
The $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile, a five-furlong race for 2-year-olds on the main track, is the racing highlight of the “Thurby” celebration on May 4. Also set for that program is the $65,000-added Opening Verse overnight stakes for 3-year-olds and up at a mile on turf.
Kentucky Oaks features five stakes contests in support of the 1 1/8-mile race that is America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies. The Oaks Day schedule includes the La Troienne, the $400,000 Alysheba (GII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles, the $200,000 Eight Belles (GII) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, the $150,000 Edgewood Presented by Forcht Bank (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf and the $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on the grass.
The May 6 program headed by the Kentucky Derby also features the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and the Humana Distaff among a trio of Grade I attractions, including three Grade II races: the $500,000 Churchill Downs for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs, the $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Presented by Longines for fillies and mares ages 4 and up at one mile on turf and the $300,000 American Turf Presented by Ram Trucks for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. The Derby Day schedule of seven stakes races is rounded out by the $250,000 Pat Day Mile Presented by LG&E and KU, a Grade III race for 3-year-olds at a mile on dirt.
June 17 night racing program is headed by the Stephen Foster Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up on the main track that is one of North America’s premier races for older horses, features four other graded stakes events: the $200,000 Wise Dan (GII) for 3-year-olds and up at a mile on turf; the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares ages 3 and up; the $100,000 Regret (GIII), a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies; and the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
Three stakes races will be part of “Downs After Dark presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” session that will bring the curtain down on the 38-day racing session, including two historic six-furlong races for 2-year-olds: the 116th running of the $100,000 Bashford Manor (GIII) and the 117th running of the $100,000 Debutante, a Listed race for fillies. Owner John C. Oxley and trainer Mark Casse joined forces to win both races in 2016, taking the Bashford Manor with eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) winner and 2-year-old champion Classic Empire and the Debutante with future Grade I winner Pretty City Dancer. The $65,000-added Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs is also set for the closing night program.
Spring Meet racing days that will feature two stakes races the May 20 program highlighted by the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (GIII) and the transplanted Grade III Matron; the May 27 program headed by the $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII) and the $65,000-added Keertana Overnight Stakes; and the renewals of the $100,000 Aristides (GIII) and the $65,000-added Mighty Beau Overnight Stakes on June 3.