04/19/2005 11:00PM

Oaklawn Park track report

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Purses at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., could begin next year at the record levels they reached during the 2005 meet, which ended last Saturday. Oaklawn paid out approximately $264,424 a day following two purse increases during the meet, both made possible by Instant Racing.

Instant Racing is a parimutuel game that plays like a slot machine, and during the Oaklawn meet daily handle on the machines averaged $703,304, up from about $300,000 a day during the 2004 meet.

Play on Instant Racing last Friday was a record $1,036,102, a one-day mark that surpassed the previous high of $1,012,483, set on Feb. 21. The play was key in helping boost purses about $1 million this year over last year.

"I'll be very disappointed if we can't start out where we're leaving off," said Eric Jackson, general manager of Oaklawn. "Now we obviously have to have a good summer and a good fall, but assuming that we do, I think that's reachable."

Oaklawn's gaming options could expand further because the track won legislative approval to conduct a referendum that would ask voters to approve games of skill at Oaklawn.

"Quite frankly, Instant Racing's doing so great, there's no urgency, but sometime probably in the next 12 months we will present this to the voters and see what they want to do here in Hot Springs," Jackson said.