07/03/2012 3:45PM

Del Mar offering higher purses for upcoming meet

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Del Mar has raised purses in most categories for its upcoming meeting, with an added emphasis on higher prize money for maiden special weight and allowance races.

The condition book, detailing the majority of the races to be offered in the first two weeks of the meeting, from July 18-29, was published last week. The meeting runs through Sept. 5.

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The largest increase is for maiden races. This year, a sprint for maiden 2-year-olds is worth $70,000, an increase of $7,000 from last year. A first-level allowance race, or optional $80,000 claimer, has been increased from $65,000 in 2011 to $71,000. A second-level allowance race, or optional $62,500 claimer, has been hiked by $3,000, to $73,000.

For claiming races, purses for horses valued at $10,000 and below remain the same as last year. Other claimers races have received moderate purse increases.

A sprint for $10,500 to $12,500 claimers has been raised $1,000, to $28,000, while a sprint for fillies and mares entered for claiming prices ranging from $28,000 to $32,000 will be worth $45,000, an increase of $3,000. A starter allowance for nonwinners of two who won a maiden race for a maximum claiming price of $40,000 has been increased $3,000, to $40,000.

Del Mar director of racing Tom Robbins said the increases were made in consultation with the Thoroughbred Owners of California, which must approve purse agreements with the state’s racetracks. The increases come a year after Del Mar underpaid purses by approximately $1.35 million, resulting in a retroactive payment late last year.

“We were pleasantly surprised with how things went last year,” Robbins said of purse levels.

In addition to the higher purses, Del Mar is continuing its program of paying bonuses to the owners of horses who ship from out of state to race at the meeting, provided the horses are not first-time starters and have not raced in California in the last six months.

The bonus has two features – a $1,000 bonus for all starters, regardless of the type of race, and a 25 percent purse bonus for those in overnight races. Last year, there were 107 horses that qualified for bonuses, a number that is expected to rise this year, Robbins said.

Robbins was reluctant to predict how many out-of-state runners could run at the meeting. Last year, $165,000 was paid out in bonuses, with Del Mar and the TOC sharing the cost, Robbins said.