07/13/2016 2:36PM

Overnight purses slashed up to 20 percent

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Lower-than-expected handle at this meet has forced Arlington to cut purses starting next Thursday, the beginning of the next condition book.

Purses for the highest-paying races, allowances and straight maidens, will be trimmed by 20 percent; bottom-level purses will be cut by 10 percent. An open maiden race will be worth just $25,600, and $7,500 maiden claimers will run for $8,800.

“Thus far, wagering on our races is less than anticipated, and the amount of money earned for purses is also less than anticipated,” Arlington general manager Tony Petrillo said in a statement. “Therefore, an adjustment to the purse of the races in this condition book has been adjusted to account for the shortfall to insure we do not spend more than we earn. The industry stakeholders are collectively working on solutions that will hopefully restore purse levels.”

Arlington earlier this meet cut $400,000 worth of stakes purses by canceling three stakes and reducing the purses of two others, but those cuts alone couldn’t offset a continuing fall in betting on Arlington races. Through last Sunday, all-sources average daily handle on Arlington was $1,621,283, a decline of 13 percent from the $1,871,036 Arlington averaged during a comparable period in 2015. There were 36 racing days during the 2015 span and 32 this year. Arlington ran three-day race weeks – eight races per day – during May and June. The track’s average daily all-sources handle has fallen a remarkable 60 percent since 2009, when Arlington averaged more than $4 million per day.

Arlington’s purse structure initially was higher this year than last because of an agreement with Hawthorne Race Course through which Arlington would receive a greater share of revenue from betting during the winter dark period of the Chicago racing season than in 2015. Arlington is averaging 7.69 starters per race at this meet but only 7.22 in races run over the Polytrack main track.

◗ Arlington will continue running 32 races weekly but is shifting one race from Sunday to Saturday, carding nine races on Saturdays and just seven on Sundays. Post time for Saturday also has been pushed back to 2 p.m. Central.