ARCADIA, Calif. -- The Grade 1, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita has been moved from late June to Memorial Day weekend this year and will be the richest race of the track's spring-summer meeting, which runs April 14 to July 4.
The 40-race stakes schedule features three other Grade 1 races, including one renamed for Beholder, the recently retired three-time champion. The $400,000 Beholder Mile for fillies and mares on dirt will be run June 3. The race was previously known as the Vanity Mile.
The other two Grade 1 races are the $300,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares on turf May 27, the same day as the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, and the $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf June 3.
With the Gold Cup moving to May, the track has changed the three-race schedule of stakes for older horses on dirt. The Grade 2, $200,000 Californian Stakes at 1 1/8 miles has been moved from late May to April 22. The Grade 3, $100,000 Precisionist Stakes, which was not run in 2016, has been moved to June 24. The race was run in early May in past years.
Rick Hammerle, Santa Anita's vice president of racing and racing secretary, said an earlier Gold Cup gives the race a better position on the national calendar. The race is now the third Grade 1 at 1 1/8 miles or 1 1/4 miles on dirt for the year, preceded by the $12 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 28 and the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 11.
The spring-summer meeting will open with a three-day weekend April 14-16, with races on the main track only to give the turf course a break of approximately 10 days. The leading race of opening weekend will be the Grade 3, $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap at six furlongs. The race was run at Santa Anita in 2014 and 2015 and at Los Alamitos last year.
In addition to the Precisionist, the Wilshire Stakes and Santa Barbara Stakes have been restored to the Santa Anita schedule after a one-year absence.