07/26/2011 3:22PM

Arlington tightens purse strings again


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Arlington has expanded its purse reduction policy in races that attract short fields beginning this week.

From the start of the meet, 15 percent of a race’s published purse was returned to the purse account if fewer than seven horses came to the paddock for the race, but that policy will now be triggered by a field of fewer than eight starters. For now, at least, Arlington has averted an across-the-board purse cut, something that was recently considered in light of business trends.

Through July 16, Arlington’s all-sources average daily handle was $2,935,811 according to information provided by the Illinois Racing Board. (Arlington, as per the policy of its owner, Churchill Downs Inc., does not publish handle figures.) That’s a decline of about 1.6 percent compared with a comparable period last year, though a cutback in race days this year means Arlington has raced several fewer programs. The figures, however, show that Arlington has failed to bounce-back from a difficult 2010, when handle fell 27 percent from the previous season.