Thoroughbred Daily News
English Channel - California Sunset, by Deputy Minister - Buck Pond Farm
Buck Pond Farm - Versailles, Kentucky | 2011 | Entered Stud 2017 | 2019 Fee $6,500

Third Purse Increase at Oaklawn

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Oaklawn Park | Coady

For the third time since the racing season opened less than two months ago, officials at Oaklawn Park have announced that the track is adding $1 million to overnight purses. Retroactive to Thursday, Mar. 14, purses for open maiden special weight races will be $90,000 and purses for open allowance races will be $95,000, an increase of $7,000.

The announcement came on the same day that the GII Rebel S. was split into two divisions, each worth $750,000. The unsplit Rebel was to offer $1 million. The move was made, in large part, to accommodate California shippers affected by the closing of the main track at Santa Anita.

“We pioneered this model beginning in 2000, and have further developed it every year since,” said Oaklawn President Louis Cella. “In fact, just a few years ago we were running open maidens for $40,000 and proud of it. Now they are at $90,000. And, who ever thought we’d be in the position to split the Rebel into two divisions? Today is an extremely proud moment in Oaklawn’s history.”

When first mulling over the possibility of a split Rebel, track officials indicated that they would need a minimum of 20 entries. A total of 19 horses was entered Wednesday, but as a good-will gesture, the track opted not to deviate from their plan. “Knowing that some horsemen have very few options this late in the Triple Crown prep season, we felt the right thing to do was to follow through with the plan to split the Rebel,” said Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith. “We also wanted to do it for the fans. We wouldn’t even be in this position without the overwhelming support they’ve given us since the start of the season.”

Trainer Bob Baffert has the likely favorites in both divisions in the form of ‘TDN Rising Stars’ Improbable (City Zip) and Eclipse Award and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}).

Saturday’s card also features the $350,000 GII Azeri S. and the $350,000 Essex H.

 

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