08/23/2005 11:00PM

Del Mar increases purses

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Del Mar has raised purses approximately 5 percent for the meet, an increase retroactive to opening day, July 20, track officials said Wednesday.

The retroactive portion of the increase, which totaled $492,995, was paid on Tuesday to owners whose horses earned money in overnight races. The increase did not affect the purses of the track's 29 major stakes.

The hike was caused by better-than-expected business this summer. Through Sunday, the track had a daily average handle of $13,947,266, up 3.3 percent over last year's record average handle of $13,497,260. One of the strengths this year has been a 5 percent increase in ontrack handle.

Additional purse money of approximately $150,000 will be paid over the final 13 days of the meeting, from Wednesday to closing day, Sept. 7.

This is the third consecutive year that Del Mar has raised purses.

There is a possibility that a smaller retroactive payment, perhaps 3 or 4 percent, could be made later this year, pending business over the final two weeks, according to Del Mar's racing secretary, Tom Robbins.