02/22/2015 1:34PM

Oaklawn purses get a second boost


A second increase to overnight purses at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., will go into effect on Thursday, the track announced Sunday morning. Overnight purses will be increased between $1,000 and $3,000 a race. The move brings the value of maiden special weight races to a track-record $64,000, while allowance races will be worth as much as $69,000.

Oaklawn is enjoying an average field size of 9.6 horses a race this meet, one of the highest in the country through Feb. 21, according to the track. Business has also thrived at Oaklawn's gaming center, which underwent a $20 million expansion prior to the meet opening in January. The track also welcomed an estimated on-site crowd of 24,000 for the races on Saturday, Feb. 14.

Oaklawn has found success despite a tough winter that has cost the track four dates of live racing, including last Monday, the original date of the Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest Stakes that was moved to Sunday.

“Despite some unfortunate winter weather, I wouldn’t trade places with any other racing secretary right now,” said Pat Pope, racing secretary for Oaklawn. “We appreciate the support of our horsemen and the cooperation they showed in having to reschedule such an important 3-year-old prep race as the Southwest Stakes. I’m really excited about our racing program heading into the later part of the season.”

Oaklawn races through April 11, the date of the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby.