02/23/2005 12:00AM

Oaklawn Park raises its purses

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Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., has increased its purses by $500 to $1,000 a race, starting Thursday.

Oaklawn announced the increase Wednesday, following significant gains in handle on Instant Racing, a parimutuel game that plays like a slot machine. Instant Racing handle topped the $1 million mark for the first time on Monday. In all, Instant Racing is expected to provide $1.5 million toward purses this Oaklawn meet.

In addition to the across-the-board purse increases, Oaklawn announced that the purse for the 1 1/16-mile Instant Racing Breeders' Cup, for 3-year-old fillies, has been raised from $75,000 to $100,000. The race will be run on Arkansas Derby Day, April 16.

Also, the Grade 3, $175,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup for fillies and mares has been renamed the Azeri Breeders' Cup, after the mare who won a record third Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn last April. The Azeri will be run on March 12.