One of the richest racing seasons in the country just got richer.
Oaklawn, which already has the highest purses in the country for this time of year, is increasing purses as much as $8,000 per race effective Saturday, March 18, thanks to strong business across the board and good weather.
Purses for Maiden Special Weights will increase from $72,000 to $80,000 and Allowance races will be as high as $84,000 after the starting the season as high as $76,000.
Saturday’s card was already going to be the second richest of the meet with the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) and the $250,000 Essex Handicap included in the 11-race card. With the purse increase, the total purses for the day should exceed $2 million.
“The Rebel Stakes is no longer just a stepping stone to the Arkansas Derby,” Assistant General Manager Wayne Smith said. “It stands on its own merit as one of the leading preps for the Triple Crown races. When you add in the Azeri and the Essex, you get one of the strongest days of racing anywhere – and it just gets better with these purse bumps that will have a positive impact on the under card races and the rest of our season.”
Also impacted by the purse increase will be all starter allowance races; claiming races with a claiming price of $30,000 or higher; and maiden claiming races with a claiming price of $30,000 or higher – all with a $2,000 per race bump.
The popular Trail’s End, the 1 ¾-miles starter allowance race that traditionally ends Oaklawn’s season, also will receive a boost, from $50,000 to $55,000.
“For 113 years, Oaklawn’s motto has been ‘racing comes first,’” Smith said. “Our gaming operation exists to create a vibrant racing product. This year, we have benefited from strong business in racing and gaming, which is allowing us to increase purses during the season for the ninth consecutive year – that’s an exceptional run.”
The 2017 Oaklawn meet runs through Saturday, April 15.