The 2009 Calder Meet stakes schedule features 28 stakes races worth a total of $4,125,000. Nine of the stakes carry Graded status by the American Graded Stakes Committee, including the Grade I $350,000 Princess Rooney Handicap to be run on the Summit of Speed program on July 11. Calder’s longtime cornerstone event, the Festival of the Sun, is scheduled for Oct. 17.
While some stakes race purses are slightly reduced from 2008 levels in order to fortify the overnight program, the prize money remains strong.
The schedule has also been endorsed by the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (FHBPA) and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (FTBOA), the latter of which contributes funding to seven of the Calder Meet’s stakes races.
“This stakes schedule is attractive to, both, local horsemen who compete here day in and day out, as well as those shipping in from racing centers around the country,” says FHBPA President Sam Gordon. “Calder did a good job adjusting the racing program to withstand today’s economic conditions.”
The Princess Rooney and the Grade II $350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, both run on the Summit of Speed card, continue to be a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” program, with the winner of each race automatically qualifying for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and Breeders’ Cup Sprint, respectively. The $25.5 million Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held November 6-7 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park, Calif.
“We have a lot of equity in our big event race days, like the Summit of Speed and Festival of the Sun,” said Racing Secretary Mike Anifantis, “and hope to continue to attract America’s best quality horses to create outstanding betting opportunities for our customers. It is equally important for us to adjust the schedule for the betterment of Florida racing.”
Calder’s Summit of Speed is now in its tenth year. In that short amount of time, four Summit veterans have gone on to win Eclipse Awards as the nation’s top sprinter (Orientate, Lost in the Fog, Maryfield (female sprinter) and Benny the Bull).
The Festival of the Sun, now in its 18th year, is Calder’s signature event and will be held on October 17. Seven stakes races – including the rich finales of the Florida Stallion Stakes – command the attention on the racetrack, but complementary horse-related events and family-style entertainment abound as well, making the Festival of the Sun Calder’s best-attended day annually.
“Preview” days for both the Summit of Speed and Festival of the Sun are also on the schedule (June 13 and Sept. 26), while Calder’s “Juvenile Showcase,” a day dedicated to 2-year-old Thoroughbreds and the sport’s emerging stars, is slated for Aug. 29. The Juvenile Showcase features the middle legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes program.
The 2009 Calder Meet Stakes Schedule is attached. The 2009/10 Tropical Meet Stakes Schedule will be announced separately.