08/21/2012 4:47PM

Oaklawn Park will offer record purses in 2013

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Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., will open its 2013 meet in January with a record purse structure that includes maiden special weight races worth $53,000 and allowance races worth as much as $56,000. The track announced on Tuesday that it plans to pay out close to $20 million in total purses during the 56-date meet, up from $18 million during the same number of dates in 2012.

Oaklawn’s purses are projected to average more than $350,000 a day, including $5.7 million in stakes, in 2013. The racing program is funded in part by an electronic gaming operation at Oaklawn.

Oaklawn began the 2012 meet with purses averaging about $320,000 a program and maiden special weights worth $40,000. By the final weeks of the season, maiden special weight purses had swelled to $51,000.

“We were thrilled last year when we were able to offer $40,000 for maiden allowance races,” said Pat Pope, racing secretary at Oaklawn. “For that number to climb to $53,000 this year is just phenomenal.”

Oaklawn also has made notable increases to races with claiming prices of $15,000 or greater for 2013.

Pope and David Longinotti, assistant general manager of racing at Oaklawn, will soon be making stable recruiting trips to California, Kentucky, and New York. Longinotti said stall applications, which are available at www.oaklawn.com, would be reviewed at the end of October, while the stable area will open in mid-November.

Oaklawn races from Jan. 11 through April 13.