Thursday, December 6, 2018
Oaklawn Park recently received grades from the American Graded Stakes Committee for 11 of the track's stakes races for the upcoming 2019 season.
All of the races retained their same grades as the 2018 meet, including the committee's highest ranking of Grade 1 for the $1 million Arkansas Derby to be held on April 13 and the $700,000 Apple Blossom Handicap to be held on April 14 for older fillies and mares.
The Arkansas Derby and the Apple Blossom are the track's only two Grade 1 stakes races. Oaklawn's now-$1 million Rebel Stakes for 3-year-olds was one of three races to receive a Grade 2.
The Rebel had offered a $900,000 purse since 2016 as the third of four races, including the Arkansas Derby, to carry Kentucky Derby qualifying points. The 2019 Rebel will be run on March 16.
The Arkansas Derby will hold its traditional spot on the racing calendar three weeks before the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Oaklawn's 57-day season will extend past the Arkansas Derby for the first time in the facility's 115-year history.
The meet will close on May 4, the same day as the Kentucky Derby. The $250,000 Oaklawn Invitational for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles will be held on May 4 with the $200,000 Oaklawn Mile for 4-year-olds and up to be held on May 3.
Another six stakes races will remain Grade 3 for the 2019 meet. Oaklawn's 3-year-old prep season begins on opening day, scheduled for Jan. 25, with the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes with the Grade 3 $500,000 Southwest scheduled for Feb. 18.
Oaklawn's other Grade 3 races are the $500,000 Razorback Handicap for older horses on Feb. 18, the $500,000 Fantasy for 3-year-old fillies on April 12, the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap for older horses on April 13, the $200,000 Honeybee for 3-year-old fillies on March 9 and the $200,000 Bayakoa for older fillies and mares on Feb. 18.Sports on 12/06/2018
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