12/09/2011 3:59PM

Santa Anita raises purses for maiden special weight races


Purses for maiden special weight races and allowance races will be marginally higher at the forthcoming Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, while most claiming races will remain the same compared to the 2010-11 season.

Santa Anita released its first condition book Thursday, detailing the races likely to be run in the first two weeks of the meeting, from the Dec. 26 opening day through Jan. 8.

A purse for a maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds over six furlongs will be $56,000, an increase of $2,000 from the corresponding meeting last year. A first-condition optional claimer for fillies and mares over a mile will be worth $58,000, a gain of $2,000.

Racing secretary Rick Hammerle said an emphasis was placed on increasing purses for better classes of horses after consulting with the Thoroughbred Owners of California. The TOC must approve purse contracts with the state’s racetracks.

“I think it’s important when you do raise purses, the first thing you want to look at is the maiden special weight race,” he said. “When you raise those, the natural progression is to raise the allowance races.

“I think our purses for claiming races are competitive. I think all claimers without conditions got a little bump. Anytime you are able to raise them a little bit is a positive thing.”

Some purses for claiming races are as much as $2,000 more than last year. A $25,000 claimer on the hillside turf course was worth $30,000 last year and is offered for $32,000 on the Dec. 26 program.

The stakes schedule was announced earlier this fall. Purses for eight stakes have been increased, while one notable race, the Santa Anita Derby, has had its purse cut from $1 million to $750,000. In addition, five stakes that were on the 2010-11 schedule will not be offered this year.

This is the second consecutive year that Santa Anita has increased overnight purses. Last winter, overnight purses rose by approximately 25 percent over the 2009-10 meeting because of legislation that increased the takeout on exotic bets and dedicated the money to overnight purses.