Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colorado, will pioneer a new program for its 2015 season that offers a bonus for races drawing large field sizes and a penalty for races with small fields. With the goal of featuring full-field races, all claiming races with field sizes of 10 or more will receive a purse increase of 10 percent. However, claiming races with field sizes of seven or less will have a 10-percent purse reduction. For allowance and maiden special weight races, a field of eight or more will trigger a 10-percent bonus. A field of six or less will decrease the purse by 10 percent.
“The most important people in horse racing are our fans, and this program is designed to deliver a better product to them,” Arapahoe Park General Manager Bruce Seymore said. “Bigger field sizes mean more competitive races, and we also want to reward the horsemen that participate in these more competitive races.”
Stakes races will maintain set purse values. In conjunction with the bonus for field sizes, the track will experiment with eliminating eligibility conditions for all $5,000 claiming races, which represent a large part of the racing schedule.
Arapahoe Park will also bring back the Race-Day Medication-Free Incentive program it created in 2014 that rewards trainers who win at Arapahoe Park with a horse void of any race-day medication with a $1,000 bonus per victory. The bonus comes from a special fund created by Mile High Racing and Entertainment, Arapahoe Park’s parent company. The program encourages trainers to go beyond the letter of the law that permits only Lasix, phenylbutazone (“bute”), flunixin, and ketoprofen on race day in Colorado. The bonuses will be paid out at the end of the season that concludes on August 16.
“Between the bonuses for field sizes and for running without race-day medication, we hope we can send a message about where we think the future of horse racing should head,” Seymore said.
Arapahoe Park will host 39 days of live Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, and Arabian racing from May 22 to August 16. The 2015 season includes a revamped stakes schedule that for the first time will feature two $100,000 Thoroughbred stakes races on the same day—the Arapahoe Park Classic and Gold Rush Futurity on August 16—as well as two Quarter Horse stakes with estimated six-figure purses and four graded Arabian stakes.