09/23/2011 12:47PM

Santa Anita races more widely available on Internet

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Television images of the upcoming Santa Anita Autumn meeting will have a wider distribution through the Internet, satisfying a demand issued by the California Horse Racing Board last month, the government body announced on Thursday.

In August, racing board officials approved Santa Anita’s application for an autumn meeting, from Friday through Nov. 6, contingent on wider exposure of the track’s television pictures from the HRTV network.

The enhanced availability will focus primarily on Internet platforms, such as the HRTV website, as well as mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads, according to documents submitted to the racing board. HRTV has exclusive rights to the images of the Santa Anita races.

Santa Anita officials told the racing board in August that negotiations for a broader distribution of the HRTV network through satellite television systems had fallen through and that distribution through mobile devices faced software difficulties before the Sept. 30 start of the meeting. Racing board officials said at the time that Santa Anita had to find a broader distribution or risk not being granted a license.

In recent documents submitted to the racing board, Santa Anita officials also detailed plans for an advertising campaign for the autumn meeting. The autumn meeting is the first to be run by Santa Anita and is being operated by the track subsidiary, the Pacific Racing Association. In the past, the Oak Tree Racing Association conducted a fall meeting at Santa Anita from 1969 to 2009 and at Hollywood Park in 2010.

Earlier this year, the racing board awarded the fall dates to Santa Anita. Oak Tree is not conducting a meeting this year, but the not-for-profit organization received a cash payment from Santa Anita, allowing Santa Anita to run the major stakes held at previous Oak Tree meetings.

The autumn meeting will have a purse structure higher than the 2009 Oak Tree at Santa Anita and 2010 Oak Tree at Hollywood Park meeting, an increase caused by 2010 legislation that increased the takeout on exotic wagers. However, purses will be lower than the winter-spring meeting earlier this year.

For example, a maiden race for sprinters will be worth $45,000, an increase of $7,000 from the 2010 Oak Tree meeting, but $9,000 less than the winter-spring meeting. A first-condition allowance race for sprinters is worth $48,000, a drop of $8,000 from the winter-spring meeting but $8,000 higher than the 2010 Oak Tree meeting. A sprint for $10,500 to $12,500 claimers will be worth $19,000, $4,000 higher than the 2010 Oak Tree meeting, and $1,000 less than at the winter-spring meeting.

Santa Anita director of racing Mike Harlow said purse levels at past meetings run at Santa Anita at this time of year have typically been “15 to 20 percent lower.”

Even though the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting and the Del Mar meeting earlier this year underpaid purses and announced retroactive purse increases, Harlow said that a conservative approach was taken to purse levels for the Santa Anita Autumn meeting because of the meeting’s short duration.

“You don’t have time to adjust,” he said. “You need to hit it on the head.”