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Spiral purse cut after Kentucky Derby qualifying points reduction

The annual showcase event at Turfway Park, the Spiral Stakes, has had its Kentucky Derby eligibility points downgraded by Churchill Downs, a change that moved officials at the northern Kentucky track on Tuesday to announce a major purse cut for its marquee event along with a shakeup in the stakes schedule for 2018.

The Grade 3 Spiral, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack, will be worth just 20 Derby points to the winner (and 34 overall) when it is renewed March 17. Since Churchill instituted its points system in 2013, the Spiral had been worth 50 points to the winner (and 85 overall). In addition, the Spiral purse has been slashed from $500,000 to just $200,000.

The Spiral, one of the few Derby preps still run on a synthetic surface, has produced no serious Derby contenders since Animal Kingdom won both the Spiral and the Derby in 2011.

Churchill Downs is expected to release its full Kentucky Derby points race schedule on Thursday.

The downgrading of the Spiral comes with two new races on its undercard - the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Classic, a 1 1/8-mile race for older horses; and the $75,000 Latonia Cup, a six-furlong race for older fillies and mares.

Two mainstays of Spiral Day -- the Grade 3, $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks and the $75,000 Rushaway -- remain intact.

In another change to the stakes program, Turfway announced all stakes will be run on Friday nights instead of Saturday, with the exception of Spiral Day and the March 31 WEBN Stakes. Two stakes will be run at the holiday meet, which runs Nov. 29-Dec. 31 and will be followed without interruption by the winter-spring meet (Jan. 1-March 31).