07/27/2011 4:13PM

Arapahoe Park, Retama Park increase purses

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Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colo., and Retama Park in Texas have both announced purse increases due to favorable attendance and handle figures.

Arapahoe, which is conducting a mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, will be increasing overnight purses by $1,500 each race through the final month of its meet starting this week. Purses for trial races will be increased by $500 each.

Arapahoe reports that through last Friday, average daily attendance is up 21 percent this meet, to 1,605 patrons a program. Average daily handle on the track’s races has increased 4 percent, to $124,422.

“To be up in handle and attendance is really exciting for us, and we want to give back to the horsemen,” said Bill Powers, racing secretary at Arapahoe. “The field sizes have been big, and I think our quality of horses is better this year.”

Arapahoe races through Aug. 21.

Retama last week began increasing all overnight Quarter Horses races by $1,000 each, due to an increase in attendance and handle over the last Quarter Horse meet the track held in 2008. Retama is averaging 3,702 patrons a night, up 32 percent. Handle at the 10-date Quarter Horse meet that moves into a mixed season Friday has averaged more than $330,000 a card, compared with $235,000 a program in 2008.

James Leatherman, the racing secretary at Retama, said the purse increase for Quarter Horses would continue during the mixed meet, which is to average about seven races a night for Quarter Horses and three for Thoroughbreds. It runs to Aug. 27. Retama will then put on a meet for Thoroughbreds, through Oct. 15.

Retama is running four Quarter Horse stakes on Friday night, topped by the $35,000 Ancira Ford Classic that drew Grade 1 winners First Klas Fred and Acorn. The card Saturday night will feature the $400,000 Texas Quarter Horse Association Sales Futurity.

Also this weekend, the TQHA on Friday and Saturday will conduct a yearling sale in San Antonio. There are 262 yearlings to be sold at the exposition hall at The Freeman.