02/07/2014 11:18AM

Oaklawn Park increases purses, Apple Blossom, Oaklawn Handicap now $600K


HOT SPRINGS, Ark.– The Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap will be worth $600,000 each when they are run in April after Oaklawn Park on Friday announced the purse for each would be boosted by $100,000. The Apple Blossom, a mile and a sixteenth race for fillies and mares, will be run April 11, while the Oaklawn Handicap, at a mile and an eighth, is part of the Arkansas Derby closing-day card April 12.

Oaklawn on Friday also announced an increase to its overnight purse schedule that was to go into effect with Saturday’s program. The purse increases are due to strong handle and gaming business figures, as well as redistribution of purses from the recent programs canceled due to winter weather.

“We have enjoyed consistent purse increases for ten straight years now,” said Pat Pope, racing secretary at Oaklawn. “The purse schedule planned for this season was our most ambitious ever. So, it’s extremely gratifying we can make these increases so early in the season.”

Will Take Charge is a candidate for the Oaklawn Handicap, according to both his owner, Willis Horton, and his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. The race falls about a month after one of his other early-season goals, the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 8. Will Take Charge, the champion 3-year-old of 2013 based at Oaklawn, is scheduled to run Sunday at Gulfstream in the Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap.

As part of the increases to overnight purses, races with a claiming price of $20,000 or less will receive a $500 boost, while all other overnight races will be increased by $2,000 each. The move brings open allowance races to $60,000 in value, while maiden special weight races will now be worth $57,000. The minimum purse at Oaklawn is now $17,500.