03/08/2012 5:29PM

Oaklawn raising purses


Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., will increase overnight purses by an average of $25,000 a card beginning with Friday's program, the track announced late Thursday. The increase is the third of the meet at Oaklawn, and it is accountable to double-digit gains in both handle and revenue from the track's gaming machines during the month of February.

The new increase will push maiden special weight races to $51,000, and open allowances to $52,000, with each of those types of races receiving a boost of $5,000. In addition, the purses for claiming races over $15,000 and starter allowances over $20,000 will be increased $4,000. Oaklawn will also increase the purse for each of its four remaining Arkansas-bred stakes, the Rainbow, Rainbow Miss, and two divisions of the Arkansas Breeders' Stakes, from $50,000 to $60,000.

Handle on Oaklawn's races offtrack was up 33 percent in February, while ontrack handle increased 30 percent. There was a similar gain for gaming.

"We have enjoyed a very positive trend this meet," said David Longinotti, assistant general manager for racing at Oaklawn. "Good weather with no missed days of racing and only one missed day of training has led to large, quality fields, and our fans have responded.

"Maiden races are now worth $51,000, which was hard to imagine just a few years ago. And, we anticipate that soon we'll be making yet another announcement about our remaining open stakes and our participation bonus, which has been very successful the last few years."

The meet continues through April 14.