10/19/2008 11:00PM

Hollywood forced to cut overnight purses


Facing a horrible economy and a potential disruption to account wagering, Hollywood Park will begin its fall meeting with an overnight purse structure approximately 7 percent lower than the 2007 fall meeting.

The condition book, detailing the likely races for the first two weeks of the meeting from Oct. 29 to Nov. 9, was published last week. The cuts vary from $1,000 for low-quality races to $4,000 for some allowance races.

For example, a six-furlong maiden race for $32,000 claimers has a purse of $16,000, a drop of $1,000 from the 2007 fall meeting. A maiden race for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles was cut from $44,000 to $41,000, while a second-level optional claimer at six furlongs on turf was cut $4,000, from $50,000 to $46,000.

The reduction was made through an agreement between Hollywood Park track officials and officials from the Thoroughbred Owners of California, who must agree to the terms of purse agreements with the state's racetracks.

TOC president Drew Couto fears the reduction was not steep enough in light of a poor economy.

"I still think it was probably under what it should be, but I'll defer that to" Hollywood Park racing secretary Martin Panza, he said. "The economy is worse than anybody thought."

Panza said the condition of the economy gave Hollywood Park no options, especially since other tracks throughout the nation have also suffered business declines.

"Business is off everyplace," Panza said. "That's the trend right now. It puts all of us in a difficult situation. Costs for horsemen aren't going down, but we can only pay out what we bring in. I think it protects us with the way the economic trend is going."

Account wagering through telephone and Internet sources could be disrupted at the fall meeting. The TOC is negotiating with the four account-wagering providers licensed to do business in California - TVG, Twinspires, XpressBet, and Youbet.com - regarding the distribution of revenue of bets from those sources. Couto has said the TOC is seeking a higher percentage of those bets to fund purses.

The lack of an agreement could lead out-of-state customers to be shut out of Hollywood Park races if an agreement is not reached, Couto said. The negotiations continue.

"We're trading numbers at the moment," he said Sunday. "We'll keep trading numbers and hope we get an agreement. There shouldn't be any interruption in-state. Hopefully, we'll get something done in the next 10 days."

O'Neill fined $7,500 for positive test

Trainer Doug O'Neill has been fined $7,500 after one of his runners tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide at Santa Anita last January, according to a statement released by the California Horse Racing Board last weekend.

The penalty was part of a stipulated agreement between O'Neill and the racing board. In addition to the fine, O'Neill had a 30-day suspension stayed in the event that he does not have a medication violation in classes 1, 2, or 3 in the next year.

The excessive test was taken from Chicks Rule, the winner of the third race on Jan. 17. The purse of that race was ordered redistributed earlier this year.

An excessive level of total carbon dioxide, or bicarbonates, is thought to increase stamina in racehorses.

Black Mamba, Georgie Boy probable

There are four non-Breeders' Cup stakes at Santa Anita from Friday through Sunday.

Friday's program includes the $250,000 Las Palmas Handicap for fillies and mares over a mile on turf. Black Mamba, the winner of the Grade 2 Beverly Hills and Grade 1 John Mabee handicaps earlier this year, is a leading contender.

The final two races on Saturday's 11-race program are for 3-year-olds - the $100,000 Damascus Stakes at seven furlongs and the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Georgie Boy, the winner of the San Vicente and San Felipe stakes earlier this year before he was sidelined with injury, makes his comeback in the Damascus.

The Oak Tree Derby field will include Madeo, the upset winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Aug. 31.

On Sunday, the final day of the meeting, the feature race is the $100,000 Cascapedia Handicap for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.

The weather for Breeders' Cup weekend is expected to be in the low 80s and clear.

Backbackbackgone points to Prevue

Backbackbackgone, who won Saturday's $80,100 Jack Goodman Stakes in his first start since May, will be aimed for the $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23, trainer Peter Miller said Sunday.

Miller is hoping to use the seven-furlong Prevue as a prep to the $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20.