03/06/2009 12:00AM

Oaklawn business, purses up


Handle at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., is up 5 percent at the halfway point of the meet, which has led officials to make across-the-board increases to overnight purses. The track was to raise maiden special weight and allowance races $1,000 each beginning Friday, while all claiming races will be boosted in value by $300.

Oaklawn has handled an average $3,360,833 a day on its races from all sources through the first 27 days of the 54-date meet, which runs through April 11. Of that amount, an average $2,541,308 a day has been bet on Oaklawn's races offsite, up 6 percent over the corresponding period last year. Ontrack, Oaklawn has handled an average $819,524 a day on its live races, up 3 percent over 2008.

Attendance is also up. Oaklawn is drawing an average 10,340 patrons a day, up 3 percent from the first half of the meet a year ago. Field size is averaging 9.86 starters per race, a 5 percent increase over the 9.36 at the halfway point of the meet in 2008.

The purse increase puts maiden special weight races at $35,000.