One year after increasing the purses of 19 stakes races, Oaklawn has planned the richest stakes schedule in track history for 2015. Chief among the changes is a $150,000 bump to the Rebel Stakes, the last local prep before the $1 million Arkansas Derby, which will now carry a purse of $750,000.
Overall, Oaklawn will run 31 stakes worth $6,675,000 -- a $300,000 increase over 2014 and more than $2 million more than it offered just seven years ago
"I am continually impressed by what we've been able to accomplish the past several years," Director of Racing David Longinotti said. "The timing of the Rebel and the quality of its field for the past several runnings makes it an important Triple Crown prep in its own right. It is very deserving of a purse increase.
"We also felt by enhancing the purses of the Razorback and Azeri we could build on the Preview Day concept we started in 2014. Last year, we were also able to boost the purse of both the Apple Blossom and the Oaklawn Handicap by $100,000 each and we're pleased to be able to keep those purses at the $600,000 level for 2015."
The Rebel will share the card for the second straight year with the Razorback Handicap and Azeri Stakes as part of a Racing Festival Preview Day, Saturday, March 14, 2015. The $250,000 Razorback, which had its purse raised by $50,000 for 2015, is the final local prep for the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap, while the $300,000 Azeri Stakes, which had its purse bumped $100,000 over last year, is the last prep before the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap.
The 1 1/16-mile Rebel, whose past winners include three-year-old champions Will Take Charge, Lookin at Lucky, Curlin and Smarty Jones, is the third of four Oaklawn stakes races offering points for the Kentucky Derby culminating with the Arkansas Derby. The first two races in the track's rich series highlight the holiday Monday cards in January and February. The $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes will be run Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 19, and the $300,000 Southwest will be run Presidents' Day, February 16.
The Racing Festival of the South will kick off Saturday, April 4, with the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes for three-year-old fillies. After being dark Easter Sunday, April 5, Monday and Tuesday, the Festival will resume Wednesday, April 8, with the $100,000 Carousel Stakes for female sprinters. The $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap will anchor the card Thursday, April 9, and Apple Blossom Handicap and the $100,000 Bachelor Stakes are the highlights of Friday, April 10.
The meet will culminate with the 79th running of the Arkansas Derby, which produced three different top three finishers in the Triple Crown races -- Danza (Kentucky Derby), Ride On Curlin (Preakness) and Commissioner (Belmont) -- in 2014. The closing day card will also feature the Oaklawn Handicap, $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes and $100,000 Instant Racing Stakes.
Oaklawn's 2015 season begins Friday, January 9, and ends on Arkansas Derby Day, Saturday, April 11. For more information about Oaklawn's 2015 race meet, visit www.oaklawn.com or call 1-800-Oaklawn.
For the complete 2015 stakes schedule, click here.