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Partnership links stakes at Santa Anita, UK tracks

Through a new partnership between 1/ST Racing and the British Jockey Club, the winner of Santa Anita’s Grade 2, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes on May 4 will receive an automatic entry into England’s Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G1) July 6 at Sandown Park. Nominations for the Charles Whittingham stakes close Thursday

The aim of the initiative, which also provides travel incentives, is to increase international participation in high-profile turf races at 1/ST-operated tracks in the U.S. and historic fixtures in the United Kingdom.

The winner of the Coral-Eclipse Stakes, which was first run in 1886, will receive an automatic entry in Santa Anita’s $750,000 John Henry Turf Championship (G2) on Sept. 28. Previous winners of the 1 1/4-mile Coral-Eclipse include such luminaries as Enable, Golden Horn, Sea the Stars and Giant’s Causeway.

The partnership also links a pair of turf sprints from Santa Anita and the UK. The winner of England’s July Cup (G1) going six furlongs at Newmarket July 13 will receive an automatic berth in the Eddie D Turf Sprint (G2) on Sept. 28 at Santa Anita.

“A special thank you to our friends at The Jockey Club on launching this innovative partnership. We look forward to welcoming in competitors to the inaugural California Crown at Santa Anita Park this autumn,” 1/ST president Aidan Butler said. “This partnership with The Jockey Club is part of our wider global strategy for improving international interest and top-class participation in the world’s biggest races, as evidenced by a similar alliance we have with Royal Ascot, via our Royal Palm juvenile series at Gulfstream Park, which delivered Crimson Advocate, the winner of the prestigious Queen Mary Stakes, in its inaugural year.”

Matt Woolston, international director for the British Jockey Club, said, “We feel we have highlighted a race schedule that incentivizes runners to travel across the Atlantic.

“By pairing two of the UK’s most famous and prestigious Group One contests in the summer with a quartet of valuable North American turf contests in the spring and autumn, we feel we have the perfect race schedule for transatlantic runners. In addition, British and other European trainers now have the chance of an incentivised trip to North America in the autumn for races at Santa Anita Park’s exciting new California Crown meeting.”

Nominations for the Whittingham will be released Friday. Entries for the 1 1/4-mile turf test will be taken Wednesday.