09/22/2010 8:05PM

Del Mar intends to pay out close to $900,000 in back purses


Del Mar will make a retroactive purse payment of approximately $850,000 to $900,000 this fall to owners who had horses earn prize money in overnight races for the recently concluded meeting, the track announced earlier this week.

The payment is expected to be distributed in November, according to director of racing Tom Robbins. He said the exact amount of the retroactive payment has yet to be finalized. The meeting ended on Sept. 8.

Robbins said on Wednesday the purse underpayment was a result of several factors, including strong handle in the final week helped by a three-day pick six carryover from Sept. 1-3. The pick six carryover for the Sept. 4 program was $1,597,470. Bettors added $5,059,021 to the pool that day.

“There are things you can’t control, like a three-day pick six carryover at the end of the meeting,” Robbins said. “That added to it. Underpayments are a combination of several things. Throughout the meeting, we were happy with the level of overnight purses on individual days.”

Robbins said the retroactive payments will be paid to owners whose horses earned money in overnight races and overnight stakes, but will not be extended to owners who had horses earn prize money in listed or graded stakes.

According to a statement released by the track, the retroactive payment is equal to approximately 7.5 percent of overnight purses paid this year. For 2010, the track had an average daily all-sources handle of $12,154,359, a decline of 6.8 percent from 2009. The number of races offered this year fell by 5.5 percent, to 325 from 344 in 2009, an indication that the per-race handle was near 2009 figures.

Before the meeting began on July 21, Del Mar increased purses for some lower-level claiming races by $1,000 to $2,000 a race for some categories, and cut some purses for maiden special weight races and allowance races by $1,000 to $3,000.

“We didn’t reduce purses that much,” Robbins said of the pre-meeting decision. “We cut the stakes schedule by $900,000. We cut allowance races and we raised a few races. A lot of the races were the same.”