06/24/2011 4:23PM

Hollywood Park purse increase to go across the board

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Benoit & Associates
Crown of Thorns, with Tyler Baze up, wins the Mervyn LeRoy.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The 10-percent purse increase that takes effect at Hollywood Park on Thursday will be an across-the-board hike for overnight races, the track’s racing secretary, Martin Panza, said Thursday afternoon.

“It’s the easiest way to do it,” he said.

The purse increase, announced Thursday, will cover the final 13 days of racing of the spring-summer meeting, which ends on July 17. Track president Jack Liebau on Thursday said the surplus in purse revenue is a result of a conservative approach to business expectations at the start of the meeting, which began on April 21. Liebau said on Thursday that Hollywood Park’s all-sources handle was down 5 percent this year.

The increase will give Hollywood Park purse levels higher than what was offered at Santa Anita earlier this year, and just below levels set for Del Mar this summer. For example, an optional claimer for first condition allowance horses, or $40,000 claimers, around two turns on turf, was offered for $56,000 at Santa Anita in late April and will have a purse of $57,200 at Hollywood Park starting next week. The same race at Del Mar will be worth $65,000.

Maiden sprinters will race at Hollywood Park under the new structure for $55,000, $1,000 more than at Santa Anita, but $8,000 less than what will be offered at Del Mar.

“It puts us above Santa Anita and makes us competitive nationwide,” Panza said. “From June 30 to Sept. 7 the purses in California are strong, through Del Mar. For California racing in whole, it’s a good thing.”

Panza said the increases could lead to higher purses for Hollywood Park’s fall meeting in November and December. The purses for that meeting will be determined following a thorough assessment of business at the current meeting and at Del Mar, he said.

“We’ll get projections from Del Mar and what we did for the summer meeting,” he said. “Unless the world comes crashing to a halt, the projections could be a little better for the fall meeting. It’s good for California racing, and hopefully we can attract more horses to California.”

Crown of Thorns headed for San Diego

Crown of Thorns, who finished seventh in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 18, will make his next start in the $200,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 30.

Trainer Richard Mandella said earlier this week that the three weeks between the Stephen Foster and the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9 is insufficient for Crown of Thorns, who won the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 7. The San Diego Handicap is a prep for the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 28.

In the Stephen Foster, Crown of Thorns finished four lengths behind race winner Pool Play while racing in traffic for part of the race.

“I was not real satisfied with the way things went,” Mandella said.

Greely out after more surgery

Beau Greely, who has trained the Grade 1 winner Borrego and Sligo Bay in the last decade, is currently sidelined after undergoing a hip replacement surgery and subsequent complications from that operation.

Greely’s horses at Hollywood Park have been turned over to trainer Marty Jones, including Tres Borrachos, who won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2008.

Earlier this week, Greely said that he underwent hip replacement surgery in early May but needed emergency surgery within two weeks after the hip rebroke.

“I’ve only been able to drive for a week,” he said. “I’m going to rehab, going to the gym and swimming. I’m still very cautious.”

Greely, 39, said he will resume training his own horses in late summer and would like to get back to a stable of 20-30 horses.

“There is no sense in rushing it,” he said. “I’m probably looking at maybe Del Mar or after. Two major surgeries in two weeks is not good. Everything has to be right before I get back into it. When I’m ready it will be the right time.”

Caracortado a go for Shoemaker

Caracortado, the winner of the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita in January, has been confirmed as a starter for the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile on July 2, trainer Mike Machowsky said on Friday.

“The plan is to run,” he said. “Hopefully, it goes well and we can look at this and the Eddie Read.”

The Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar on July 23.

The Shoemaker Mile is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which offers a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in November to the winner.

Caracortado’s main competition is expected to be Courageous Cat, the winner of the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park earlier this month, Other candidates include Liberian Freighter, the winner of two stakes on turf in April, as well as Ashtar, Blue Chagall, Leroy’s Dynameaux, Red Sun, and Smokey Lonesome.