Oaklawn Park, which has frequently made mid-meet increases to purses in recent years, announced its first purse bump for the 2019 meet Wednesday. All overnight purses have been increased retroactive to the Feb. 14 card, which drew last Friday. Maiden special weights and open allowances have received $6,000 increases to $83,000 and $87,000, respectively. Purses for claiming races with a claiming tag of $16,000 or more, maiden claimers at the $20,000 level or higher, and starter allowances have all been raised by $3,000. All other purses will get a $2,000 hike.
“We’re off to a fantastic start because the fans have responded to great weather and great racing,” President Louis Cella said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the response we’ve gotten in support of our new race dates. We opened later and had one of the best opening weekends in 10 years… We are mindful of the fact that bigger purses bring in the best horses and human athletes, which in turns brings out the fans. Our goal is to have the richest and most competitive racing product in the country between January and early May.”
Oaklawn pushed the start of its meet back this year by about two weeks, opening Jan. 25 and racing through Saturday, May 4.
Arkansas HBPA President Bill Walmsley added, “I think from a horsemen’s perspective this shows that the late start has been successful and was a wise decision. The horsemen are already reaping the benefits in the form of this purse increase so quickly in the season. It is both unexpected and appreciated.”