07/08/2010 11:00PM

Del Mar raises purses for lower-level claimers

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Purses for lower-level claiming horses will rise at Del Mar this summer, but prize money for maiden special weight and allowance races will be lower than last year.

Del Mar officials on Thursday released the condition book for the first two weeks of the meeting, from July 21 to Aug. 1, detailing the type of races, distances, and prize money available.

Director of racing Tom Robbins said the decision to raise purses for cheap claimers was done in an effort to curtail the exodus of such horses to Eastern tracks with higher prize money.

"We're trying to keep some of these guys from going to other parks where they have slot machines," he said.

Purses for $10,000 claimers going six furlongs will be worth $18,000 this year, an increase of $2,000 from last year. A purse for female $10,000 claimers going a mile will be worth $19,000, a $2,000 hike. The purse for a $25,000 claiming race for maiden fillies over a mile will be worth $21,000, a gain of $1,000.

There is less money available for higher-class horses. A maiden special weight for female sprinters will be worth $50,000, down $1,000. An optional claimer over 1 3/8 miles on turf is worth $57,000, a drop of $3,000.

"We dropped them a little bit, but they are still quite high [compared] to the rest of the world," Robbins said.

In addition, the track plans a racing schedule that will offer two fewer races a week than in 2009, Robbins said.

The July 21 opening-day program will have 10 races, but most weekdays will have eight-race programs. There will be 10-race programs on weekends. Last year, there were nine-race programs on most Wednesdays and Fridays. For the second consecutive year, the track has eliminated racing on Mondays, other than the Sept. 6 Labor Day program, citing a horse shortage on the Southern California circuit.

This year, Robbins anticipates having a full barn area, but many Los Angeles-area trainers are staying to train at Hollywood Park this summer.

"There are a number of these guys that are staying north," Robbins said. "Some are in limbo right now. They haven't committed. We still have people that are making the journey down, trying to get everything in one place.

"If people are staying up there, most of those guys are looking to have some ship-in stalls."

Robbins said there is concern that fewer horses based at Del Mar could affect field size.

"It makes it a little more difficult," he said. "The plus side is maybe it will be less crowded in the barn area and racetrack."