01/22/2011 2:27PM

Laurel will raise overnight purses starting Feb. 2

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Laurel Park will raise purses for its overnight purses beginning Feb. 2, thanks to an influx of revenue from slot machines at Hollywood Casino Perryville and The Casino at Ocean Downs.

Under the revised purse structure, daily purses will increase an average of $26,000 daily to $186,000, a 16 percent rise from $160,000 at the beginning of the meet on Jan. 1.

As examples of the revised purse structure, maiden special weight races will be worth $30,000, a $2,000 increase. Bottom-level purses, for $8,000 maiden claimers and $5,000 nonwinners-of-two claimers, will also rise $2,000 to $10,000. First-level allowance races will now be worth $31,000, an increase of $1,000.

Purses for all turf races will be worth $2,000 less than comparable races on dirt.

“This will give our racing office a chance to compete with surrounding states who have used revenue from slot machines to become significant players in the mid-Atlantic region,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “The purse increase should mean for larger and more competitive fields, meaning a boost in interest on our product from bettors around the country.”

The average field size for the first 12 days of the meet has been 7.3 horses per race.