Oaklawn Park announced Wednesday that its 2014 stakes schedule of 31 races will be worth a record $6.1 million. The track's meet will begin Friday, Jan. 10 and have 57 racing days.
"The popularity of Instant Racing and Electronic Games of Skills continues to grow in Arkansas, which is tremendous for our stakes program," said Director of Racing David Longinotti.
The $1 million Arkansas Derby remains the featured race at Oaklawn Park and will go off on closing day Saturday, April 12. The race was won this year by Overanalyze, who will start in this week's West Virginia Derby.
Leading to the Arkansas Derby will again be a series of highly sought after stakes by 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail. On Monday, Jan. 20 will be the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes followed by the $300,000 Southwest Stakes on Presidents' Day, Monday, Feb. 17.
The $600,000 Rebel Stakes on Saturday, March 15 is the final local prep for the 78th Arkansas Derby. Will Take Charge won this year's Rebel and finished a close second last Saturday to Belmont Stakes champ Palace Malice in Saratoga's Jim Dandy Stakes. Oxbow was second in the Rebel before capturing the Preakness Stakes.
"We don't think it's a coincidence that our purses have steadily grown over the last 10 years," Longinotti noted, "and in that same period, 10 Triple Crown races have been won by horses that raced at Oaklawn with Oxbow being the latest. We also expect our overnight purses to be a record for our track this coming season."
Leading older fillies and mares will compete in the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on Friday, April 11. On Fire Baby won this year's Apple Blossom as a 12-1 longshot.