12/07/2010 12:45PM

Santa Anita purses getting boost

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Overnight purses at the upcoming Santa Anita winter-spring meeting will rise by approximately 25 percent because of legislation passed earlier this year that raises the takeout on exotic wagers at California tracks.

The increases are more significant for horses competing in lower-claiming levels, and less so in higher-class races.

At the start of the meeting on Dec. 26, a race for $10,000 claimers will be worth $18,000 for both one-turn and two-turn races, a gain of 38 and 29 percent over last year, when those races were worth $13,000 for sprinters and $14,000 for horses racing at a mile or farther. For $12,500 claimers, purses will be $20,000, a gain of 33 percent for sprinters and 25 percent for two-turn races over last year.

The track’s new purse structure does not differentiate between sprints and longer races.

Higher-level races will have increases over last year but not as significantly from a percentage standpoint. At the 2009-10 meeting, a maiden special weight race for sprinters was worth $44,000 and such a two-turn race was worth $45,000. This year, both categories will offer purses of $54,000, gains of 22 and 20 percent. A first-condition allowance race will be worth $56,000, an increase of 22 and 17 percent over last year.

“It’s a sliding scale, some are more than others,” said Santa Anita’s racing secretary, Rick Hammerle.

Santa Anita’s condition book, detailing the races that will be offered for the first few weeks of the winter-spring meeting, will be published later this week.

The decision to support lower level claimers extensively was done to prevent those horses from leaving the state, according Hammerle.

“A lot of guys were leaving for smaller tracks that had slot-enhanced purses,” he said. “We need to keep more of those horses here.

“This is a difference. It’s significant and I think it will have an effect.”

Legislation increasing the takeout was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September, and will take effect for bettors at the start of 2011. Takeout rates will increase on two-horse exotic wagers by 2 percent, from the current 20.68 percent to 22.68 percent, and increase the takeout on bets requiring three or more horses by 3 percent, from 20.68 to 23.68 percent. Takeout rates for win, place, and show betting will remain unchanged at 15.43 percent.

The higher takeout is expected to result in a purse increase of $25 to $30 million for the entire year.