08/15/2013 4:04PM

Del Mar expects to boost purses retroactively


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DEL MAR, Calif. – Del Mar officials are projecting a retroactive purse payment after the conclusion of the current meeting Sept. 4 based on strong handle figures for the first four weeks of the season.

Through last Sunday, the 20th day of the 37-day meeting, all-sources handle had increased 11.3 percent over 2012 and ontrack betting was up 7.4 percent. The higher handle figures are expected to result in excess funds in the purse account.

“We’ll be in a good position,” said Mike Ernst, Del Mar’s chief financial officer. “The numbers are strong. We are very pleased with the numbers to date. More than halfway, we’re in good shape.”

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As part of an agreement with the Thoroughbred Owners of California, California Thoroughbred tracks make retroactive purse increases if the balance in purse pools exceeds $400,000, once final handle figures are tabulated.

In the last three years, Del Mar has made retroactive purse increases each year, ranging from $850,000 after the 2010 meeting to $1.46 million last year. Before the current meeting, the track raised purses for overnight races and increased bonuses for out-of-state shippers.

Ernst was reluctant to forecast the amount of a retroactive payment, pending business through the final weeks. The track had several pick six carryovers in the final weeks of the 2012 meeting, which boosted business.

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Purse increases at California Thoroughbred tracks are customarily made for all races at a meeting as part of an agreement with the TOC, and not just for the final weeks.