11/17/2001 12:00AM

Oaklawn expects record purses


Purses for Oaklawn Park's first condition book next year will average a record $225,000 to $250,000 a day, thanks in part to the success of Instant Racing at the Hot Springs, Ark., track, which opens for a 54-day meet Jan. 25.

Last year, daily purses averaged $225,000 while building from condition book to condition book. This year, the purses will start out strong in part because of Instant Racing, video machines on which patrons bet on races run in the distant past. Last month, Oaklawn handled more than $1 million on the electronic system, and those funds, coupled with a forthcoming tax break on live handle, are contributing factors to the improved first book.

Officials said Oaklawn received more stall requests than last year, as some 140 trainers asked for 2,300 stalls. The track houses 1,500 horses. Among the trainers expected with stables for the meet are defending champ Cole Norman, Steve Asmussen, Bob Holthus, Kenny Smith, and Bobby Barnett. Also, officials said Bernie Flint and Hugh Robertson, who have been away, are returning with strings for 2002.

The track opens for training Dec. 1.