06/16/2011 11:56AM

Churchill Downs raising purses again

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Churchill Downs announced Thursday morning that overnight purses are being increased 15 percent through the end of the meet, effective with that day’s card, marking the second time in two weeks for a purse hike at the Louisville, Ky., track. Purses already were increased by 10 percent on June 3.

Although tracks owned by Churchill Downs Inc. do not reveal attendance and handle figures except on most major race days, track officials attributed the purse increase to “higher than expected all-sources wagering levels.”

“Horse racing fans have responded positively to our racing product this season, and wagering levels over the last two weeks in particular greatly exceeded our projections,” track president Kevin Flanery said in a media release.

Purses for the final 13 days (128 overnight races) will rise by an approximate blended average of $5,126 per race. The affected races include everything except the seven graded stakes that remain, starting with four on Saturday.

Total overnight purses offered for the meet are projected to be $13.3 million, up 10 percent from the original forecast of $12.1 million. The daily average purse distribution, not including stakes, will be approximately $340,547 per day, and the number grows to $501,242 when stakes money is included. The June 3 increase was attributed to strong all-sources wagering during Kentucky Derby Week.