The largest purse increase in Oaklawn Park history was unveiled in a release Wednesday by the track. Purse distribution for the upcoming 2023-2024 season is set for $60 million, which amounts to a $10 million or 20% increase over last season's record-setting $50 million distribution.
The average daily purses will top $900,000 when the season starts on Dec. 8. Purses for allowance races will be $140,000–$145,000, maiden special weights will be $115,000 and the minimum purse on any race will be $30,000.
“Let me put this in perspective,” said Oaklawn President Louis Cella. “Our season purses will be three times greater than they were just 10 years ago. And we've made sure it's been across all levels of our racing product.”
Cella credits the record purses to the racing-gaming model the track has developed over the last 20 years and to a massive $100 million expansion project that was recently completed.
“We are proving that racing and gaming not only can co-exist, but they can actually enhance each other,” Cella added. “And we're really seeing it now that we've finished our luxury trackside hotel, events center and spa.”
In conjunction with record purses, Oaklawn and the Arkansas HBPA will again offer participation bonuses to owners and trainers. Owners will receive $200 for every starter during the season. Trainers will receive $250 for any starter that does not finish first, second or third.
“We worked with Oaklawn to launch this program a year ago,” said HBPA President Bill Walmsley. “And I've heard nothing but positive comments from horsemen.”