05/26/2010 11:00PM

Full barns, bigger purses at Arapahoe


Arapahoe Park will feel the full effect of some beneficial simulcast legislation passed a year ago in Colorado during its 39-date mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses that opens Saturday. The length of the meet, which runs to Aug. 22, has been expanded by three dates while average daily purses are receiving a significant boost.

"The purse increases have just created a positive atmosphere around here," said Bill Powers, plant manager and racing secretary for Arapahoe. Powers said purses will average about $80,000 a day, compared with $65,000 a program a year ago. The increase was made possible by legislation that enabled Arapahoe to expand the number of dates it can simulcast from 250 a year to 360. Additional legislation cleared the way for the track to import greyhound simulcasts, even though there has not been dog racing in Colorado since Arapahoe ran a meet for greyhounds in 2008.

There are also two new offtrack betting sites in the state, one in Pueblo and the other in Grand Junction, for which Arapahoe has service contracts. The track owns an additional four OTBs, with the total number of parlors in the state able to be expanded.

"We're looking at quite a few other sites within three or four months," Powers said.

Arapahoe also will start offering account-deposit wagering at the end of July, Powers said.

The new revenue streams have enabled Arapahoe to boost open Thoroughbred stakes from a minimum purse of $20,000 to $30,000. Key events on the stakes calendar this meet include the $30,000 Colorado Derby at 1 1/16 miles on July 18 and the $40,000-estimated Gold Rush Futurity at six furlongs Aug. 22. The richest offering for Quarter Horses is the $150,000-added Mile High Futurity on Aug. 22.

The surging purse structure has helped Arapahoe draw horses from a host of different states, including Arizona, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas.

"I have got more horses here than I've ever had," said Powers, who has filled all 1,400 stalls at the track. "This is the first year I've ever had more stalls applied for than had stalls."

Butch Gleason is back as the meet's defending training champ, while Travis Wales and Adrian Ramos are part of a riding colony that includes newcomers Jose Figueroa and Kelsi Purcell.

Concordes Saint, a multiple stakes winner, makes his first start of the year in the featured seventh race Saturday. The five-furlong allowance for 3-year-olds and up has a purse of $13,800.