10/31/2001 12:00AM

Oak Tree meet purses raised

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Purses for the current Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting have been increased by six percent, retroactive to opening day, Sept. 26, track officials said Wednesday.

The announcement was made at the draw breakfast for the California Cup by Sherwood Chillingworth, Oak Tree's executive vice-president. The increase adds approximately $480,000 to purses, or $15,000 per day. The meeting concludes Monday.

"I thought with all the horsemen there I wanted to give them a shot in the arm," Chillingworth said of the timing of the announcement.

The increase brings purses back to the level of the start of the 2000 meeting, according to racing secretary Mike Harlow. Last year, purses at Oak Tree were cut eight percent due to slow business. The cuts included the reduction of purses for two stakes.

Thanks in part to good weather and several pick six carryovers that have spurred handle, business has been stronger at the current meeting. Track officials waited until after the Breeders' Cup program last weekend to make a final determination on the amount to increase purses. "We wanted to wait until that was out of the way to make sure we were doing the right thing," Chillingworth said.