Stickney, IL--The Illinois Racing Board has released the 2009 stakes schedule. The staple of the spring meet, the Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby will run on April 4. The last seven winners of the Illinois Derby have run in the Kentucky Derby, starting with War Emblem, who won both events in 2002.
The Sixty Sails Handicap, a Grade 3 stake for fillies and mares will be contested on April 18, and Illinois Champions Day, complete with six $100,000 stakes races, will be held on April 25.
The $200,000 Bill Hartack Memorial, named after the Hall of Fame jockey who rode five Kentucky Derby winners, had its inaugural run in the spring, but will be moved to November 21. The shift in dates should make for a great year-end, post-Breeder’s Cup event for three-year-olds and upward.
The fall meet still features the Grade 2, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup, held this year on October 3, as well as a pair of Grade 3’s: The Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap and the Hawthorne Derby.
The Illinois Festival of Racing will take place on October 31.
Throughout both meets, any Saturday that is not represented by a nominated stakes race, will offer an overnight stake worth $60,000.