Churchill Downs' 2013 spring race meet gets underway on Saturday, April 27, highlighted by the 139th Kentucky Derby on May 4. The meeting, ending on June 30, will feature several stakes races getting significant purse increases.
The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster Handicap for older thoroughbreds is receiving a $100,000 boost to $500,000 and will anchor the June 15 program. Along with the Foster that day will be the Fleur De Lis, for older females, which gets an increase of $25,000 to $175,000.
Last year's Foster was won by Ron the Greek, recent winner at Gulfstream Park of the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic, and champion mare Royal Delta captured the Fleur De Lis.
On Derby Day, the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile will have a purse of $250,000, a boost of $50,000. The day before on the Kentucky Oaks card, the Eight Belles Stakes will be getting a bump of $50,000 to $150,000.
"Our Spring Meet stakes races at Churchill Downs in 2012 were memorable in terms of the high quality of their fields, the impressive success throughout the year for horses that participated in those races and the drama that played out on the track when those races were run," said Ben Huffman, Churchill Downs Racing Secretary.
"Particularly pleasing was the response by horsemen and our fans to our first nighttime Stephen Foster Handicap multi-stakes event, and we'll be back under the lights with that terrific program this year. We're happy to have been able to boost some purses for 2013, including restoration of $100,000 to the Stephen Foster purse, and are excited to offer some wonderful opportunities to owners and trainers to bring their horses to Churchill Downs to compete in a diverse schedule of high-quality, tradition-rich races set for our 2013 Spring Meet."
However, the opening day Derby Trial will have its purse decreased by $25,000 to $175,000. The Derby Trial is the last stakes for 3-year-olds to gain points to determine eligibility to compete in the Run for the Roses.
Churchill Downs will also offer racing in 2013 with the inaugural September meet running from Sept. 6-29 and a fall meeting from Oct. 27-Nov. 30.