12/13/2006 12:00AM

Philadelphia Park hiing purses


In anticipation of revenue that will be generated by its slots casino, scheduled to open next Tuesday, Philadelphia Park announced Wednesday that it will raise purses 40 percent in 2007.

In addition to boosting purses to $175,000 daily beginning with the first condition book of 2007, the Bensalem, Pa., track will raise the minimum claiming price for conditioned races to $5,000 and begin carding races restricted to Pennsylvania-breds at the maiden special weight and first two allowance levels.

Under the new purse structure, purses for open maiden special weight races will rise from $20,000 to $28,000 and open allowance races will be worth $30,000, a $5,000 increase.

"It's the best Christmas present our horsemen could receive," said Mike Ballezzi, executive director of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

The track will race 208 days in 2007, eight more than the minimum required by Pennsylvania's slots law.

The track will have 2,000 slot machines, roughly double that of the state's first racetrack to open a casino, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. That facility, located just outside Wilkes-Barre, Pa., handled $81.58 million on 1,093 machines during its first two weeks of operation in November. Gross revenue - total handle minus player winnings - totaled $8,019,594 for that period.

Philly Park, with a larger population base to draw from, is expected to do even better than Pocono Downs.