HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, March 20, 2020) – Oaklawn announced today that it is moving its signature race – the Arkansas Derby (G1) – from Saturday, April 11 to Saturday, May 2, closing day of the 2020 live meet. Due to the closing of the casino and racetrack to the public, Oaklawn could have raced with purses intact through April 18, but, upon discussions with the HBPA, decided instead to reduce purses across the board and “stay until May.” As a result, the Arkansas Derby purse will be reduced to $750,000.
“Churchill Downs understands the circumstances created by the current health crisis, and, therefore, will allow the full 170 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility (now scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5) as long as we meet the minimum purse threshold of $750,000,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “The purse reductions are across the board. If operations return to normal between now and May, we will adjust them accordingly.”
Of the total 170 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility, 100 points will be awarded to the winner of the Arkansas Derby.
Oaklawn is also moving the Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies Friday, May 1, and will reduce its purse to $400,000, but, like the Arkansas Derby, it will still offer the full 170 points towards eligibility in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), which is now scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4.
The Arkansas Derby and Fantasy are among 15 remaining stakes that have had their purses reduced along with all overnight purses. Other date changes: The Oaklawn Invitational moves to Saturday, April 11 and will carry a $200,000 purse. The Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) moves to Saturday, April 18, and now shares the card with the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1). The Oaklawn Handicap (G2) moves to Saturday, May 2, and now shares the card with the Arkansas Derby (G1).
“We are trying to make best of a bad situation,” continued Cella. “And we greatly appreciate the cooperation we have received from our horsemen and the Arkansas Racing Commission.”
An announcement regarding all ticket sales and dining reservations will be made at a later date.