With a guaranteed purse of $2 million now set for the Kentucky Derby (G1),
the value of Churchill Downs’ 2005 stakes schedule has been raised to a record
$10 million. Despite a reallocation of $375,000 in purses to the Derby, it’s the
first time that the stakes purses at the historic track have reached the $10
The 2005 schedule is made up of 44 stakes, with 32 set for the Spring Meet
(April 30 – July 10) and 12 making up the Fall Meet (October 30 – November 26).
Thirty-four of the total stakes are graded, with five showing Grade 1 status, 10
listed at Grade 2 and 19 assigned Grade 3 credit.
To raise the Derby’s purse to its new mark, purses of some of the races on
the schedule were adjusted downward from 2004, including money from one stakes
that will take a break in 2005, the Kentucky Breeders’ Cup (G3) for
two-year-olds. Other races affected by the redistribution of the purses include
the Fleur de Lis H. (G2), $400,000 to $300,000; Ack Ack H. (G3), $150,000 to
$100,000; and the Chilukki S. (G2) (formerly the Churchill Downs Distaff),
$200,000 to $150,000.
The increase in the Derby purse will make Derby Day the richest single day of
non-Breeders’ Cup stakes competition in the history of Churchill Downs. Set for
May 7, the day consists of seven stakes worth a total $3.05 million in purses.
When combined with the $1.2 million in stakes purses on May 6 — Kentucky Oaks
(G1) Day — the Derby Weekend stakes total $4.25 million, nearly half of the
total purses offered during the year.
The Derby and Oaks highlight the events at Churchill in 2005, but several
other races on the schedule have established themselves in their own right.
During the Spring Meet, which features 23 graded races and total stakes purses
of $7.75 million, are the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) and
$250,000 Humana Distaff (G1), both set for Derby Day. Another big stakes day in
the Spring Meet will be Stephen Foster Super Saturday on June 18, featuring six
stakes topped by the $750,000 Stephen Foster H. (G1).
Of the dozen stakes during the Fall Meet, only one, the Commonwealth Turf S.,
doesn’t carry graded status. Total stakes purses will equal $2.25 million, which
declined slightly from last year when stakes purses came to $2.35 million. The
meet will have its traditional closing weekend, the Big Four Weekend, over the
Thanksgiving holiday. The four stakes that highlight that weekend, including the
$500,000 Clark H. (G2) and $300,000 Falls City H. (G2), will make up $1.2
million of the Fall Meet’s stakes purses.