07/31/2008 11:00PM

Del Mar trims purses


DEL MAR, Calif.-Del Mar announced on Friday that purses will be cut by 3.5 percent for the final three weeks of the meeting, effective Aug. 13.

The reduction was caused by a downturn in ontrack business and stagnant account wagering business in California, track officials said.

The cuts will affect overnight purses and five stakes through the end of the meeting on Sept. 3. The Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 16 and the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Aug. 31 have been cut by $50,000, to $350,000. Three other listed stakes - the Solana Beach Handicap on Aug. 17, El Cajon Stakes on Aug. 29 and Torrey Pines Stakes on Aug. 31 - have been cut by $25,000, to $100,000.

Michael Ernst, Del Mar's chief financial officer, said that account wagering handle in California “is flat.” Track officials had hoped to show growth in that category, but an experiment conducted earlier this year at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita that allowed the four account wagering providers in the state - TVG, Twinspires, Xpressbet and Youbet - to take wagers on California races was not extended to Del Mar after TVG retained exclusive rights to provide account wagering for the meeting. TVG subcontracts those rights to Youbet.

Racing officials desperately wanted the experiment to continue, but could not reach an agreement with the account wagering providers last month.

“Had we got something , this would not be happening,” Ernst said.

Overnight purses will be affected by the cuts. As an example, director of racing Tom Robbins said purses for maiden special weight races for sprinters would be cut $3,000, to $50,000, and maiden special weight races around two turns would be reduced $3,000, to $53,000.