02/08/2012 2:40PM

Oaklawn purses get immediate boost

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Oaklawn Park will increase overnight purses $5,000 a day beginning with Thursday’s nine-race program, the Hot Springs, Ark., track announced on Wednesday. There will be a $1,500 increase to all allowance races; a $1,000 boost to all maiden special weight and starter allowance races; and a $200 bump to all claiming races.

Oaklawn lost a record eight days of racing last season, but favorable weather this meet has led to increases in business through the first month of the season. The track, which in 2011 had only been able to race 10 of its first 16 dates, has not lost a card through its first four weeks in 2012. As a result, Oaklawn is reporting a 42 percent increase in attendance over the same period in 2011, and a more than 40 percent increase in handle on its races.

“We have not lost one single day of training or racing, which has led to competitive field sizes and the nice weather has brought the crowds out that we don’t typically see until later in the season,” said David Longinotti, assistant general manager of racing for Oaklawn. “We are excited to share our good fortune with the horsemen and are hopeful these positive trends will continue as we head into our bigger races.”

Oaklawn is projecting purses will average $340,000 a day this meet. The season runs through April 14.