05/21/2002 11:00PM

Retroactive purse payments

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Santa Anita will retroactively pay an estimated $1 million to owners who participated in overnight races at the recently concluded winter-spring meeting after purse revenue from a variety of sources, including phone and Internet betting, was higher than projected.

A final figure will not be available until early June, according to Mike Harlow, the track's racing secretary.

If the figure reaches $1 million, the retroactive payment would be the equivalent of a 4 percent increase and the second hike of the year. Midway through the spring-summer meeting, Santa Anita raised purses by 5 percent, citing ideal weather and large fields that attracted increased betting.

Some of the retroactive payment is being credited to phone and Internet betting, which was launched in late January.

Santa Anita offered phone and Internet betting through the Xpressbet system, owned by Magna Entertainment, which also owns the track. At the start of the meeting, track officials were reluctant to project phone and internet betting handle, Harlow said.

Although the increase was welcome news to the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the ideal situation is to pay out purses during a meeting, according to John Van de Kamp, president of the TOC.

"It means they underbudgeted and were conservative in their projections," Van de Kamp said. "In the best of the all worlds you want to come closer to the projections."