10/28/2009 11:00PM

Hollywood fine-tunes purse structure


Overnight purses at the upcoming Hollywood Park autumn meeting will be lower than last year in many categories, but purses will be higher for starter allowance races.

The condition book, detailing proposed races for the first two weeks of the fall meeting, from Nov. 13-22, were released on the track's website earlier this week. Purses for maiden 2-year-olds races over 1 1/16 miles have fallen $3,000, to $38,000, compared with the 2008 fall meeting. A first-condition allowance race for turf sprinters was cut $2,000 to $42,000, while a sprint for 3-year-old fillies eligible to be claimed for $32,000 was reduced from $27,000 to $23,000.

Some categories remained the same, such as $13,000 purses for $25,000 claiming maidens, while others, such as starter allowance races, were increased. Starter allowance sprints for the winners of maiden claiming races were increased $1,000, to $25,000, while such races around two turns were increased $2,000, to $27,000.

The reductions for many purse categories continues a trend in California - and across the nation - of racetracks offering lower prize money because of reduced handle. In addition, Hollywood Park cut the purses of many stakes and eliminated some stakes for the upcoming fall meeting to add money to overnight purses.

"We whacked our stakes to keep overnight purses as high as we can," said the track's racing secretary, Martin Panza. "We tried to not annihilate the bottom [purses] too much. Purses are what they are right now. It's not a good situation. I can't sugarcoat it. It's a national problem."

Panza said money was redirected to the starter allowance categories to give the abundance of horses that run in maiden claiming races "a chance to run for some money."

Hollywood Park opens with a three-day weekend on Friday, Nov. 13. With a four-day gap from the end of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Nov. 8, Panza hopes that races will fill without difficulty at the start of the Hollywood Park meeting. At the same time, Hollywood Park's barn area is not full, leading to concern about the availability of race-ready horses.

Through Wednesday, the Oak Tree meeting has averaged 7.88 runners per race compared to 9 per race for the entire 2008 Oak Tree meeting. The 2008 Hollywood Park fall meeting averaged 7.73 runners per race.

Hollywood was awarded 31 days for the fall but will race 27, giving up Nov. 11-12, Wednesday, Dec. 16, and Monday, Dec. 21.

"Am I going to have trouble filling? Sure," Panza said. "We're trying to make an effort. I'm hoping what we have is enough to get us through. We'll do the best we can."

Fairplex empties out

The population of Hollywood Park's barn area will increase to some extent in coming days following the closure of training at the Los Angeles County fair at Fairplex Park this weekend.

Offtrack stabling at Fairplex Park was financed by a stabling and vanning fund administered by Southern California Off-Track Wagering, Inc., the organization that oversees the network of satellite betting locations at racetracks, county fairgrounds, and card clubs.

The stabling and vanning fund has run short of money to keep Fairplex Park open because of a drop in handle at satellite locations in recent years, some of which can be attributed to a weakened economy and partially to the migration of handle to account wagering sources.

Fairplex Park, which was not full, housed horses who ran at Southern California tracks as well as young horses being prepared for their racing careers. The loss of training at Fairplex Park has angered trainers, and some racing officials.

"It's not our decision to close," said Kim Lloyd, equine manager of Fairplex Park. "We'd like to say open."

Lloyd said he is hoping that a solution can be found to allow Fairplex Park to reopen for training in the winter when the 2-year-olds begin racetrack training.

Dance With Gable headed to On Trust

Dance With Gable, who won Wednesday's California Sky Stakes at Santa Anita, will be pointed for the $75,000 On Trust Handicap at Hollywood Park on Nov. 14. If the 5-year-old gelding can win that race, it will be his third stakes win since being claimed for $40,000 at Del Mar on Aug. 7.

Trained by Mike Machowsky, Dance With Gable won the California State Fair Sprint at Sacramento on Aug. 29. In Wednesday's race for statebreds, his first on the hillside turf course, Dance With Gable led throughout, winning by a length over Big Bad Leroybrown.

The gelding has earned $78,328 since being claimed.

* Jockey Rafael Bejarano took off his mounts on Thursday, citing illness, according to his agent, Joe Ferrer. Bejarano was fighting the flu, Ferrer said.