Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will raise purses 12% beginning Aug. 19, citing a “conservative approach” taken with the purse account when the meet began in late July.
The Indiana racetrack, which has slot machines, said purses when the meet began averaged $190,000, though the figure may have been a projection that included a stakes schedule that won’t begin until September. According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, Thoroughbred purses for the first 14 days of the 2009 meet averaged $143,864.
Adjustments have been made to the 2009 stakes schedule, which leans heavily toward Indiana-bred races. The grade II, $400,000 Indiana Oaks for 3-year-old fillies won’t be run this year, according to the schedule highlighted by the grade II, $500,000 Indiana Derby.
In an Aug. 18 release, the track said purses will average more than $200,000 for the remainder of the meet, which ends Oct. 24 and includes some Quarter Horse racing.
“I am pleased to be able to announce this substantial purse increase at a time when many tracks are reducing purse distributions,” Hoosier Park general manager of racing Jeff Smith said in a statement. “This increase is due to several factors.
“Just like most businesses in our current economy, we took a very conservative approach in establishing the purse structure this spring. We have just completed one-fourth of our meet. As a result, we can better identify the horse population that is currently competing at our facility, and reward our horsemen with a higher purse structure.”
For a 63-day meet in 2008, Hoosier Park offered $141,840 per day in purses, according to TJCIS statistics, a few thousand dollars less than what has been offered so far this year. Purses were expected to increase substantially this season given the fact the slots casino opened in the spring of 2008.
The Aug. 21 condition sheet reflects the 12% purse hike. The purse for a $5,000 claimer, for instance, has gone from $9,000 to $10,000. Based on the current average, the 12% hike would put purses at about $161,000 a day.
Activities at Hoosier Park are being closely monitored by Kentucky tracks, which continue to lobby for alternative gaming. Ellis Park based its reduced 23-day meet this year on expected competition from Hoosier Park, but Ellis Park purses and field size were higher; the meet was expanded by five days.
Through 18 days of racing, Ellis Park purses have averaged $144,286 a day, and field size has averaged 9.23 horses per race. At Hoosier Park thus far, field size has averaged 8.20 horses per race.
At Kentucky’s Turfway Park, which opens Sept. 9, a comparable $5,000 claiming race will go for about $8,000--$2,000 less than at Hoosier Park.
Indiana Downs, which kicked off the Indiana Thoroughbred season and also has slots, offered average daily purses of $144,286 this year, up about 50% from the 2008 meet. The Indiana Downs meet closed soon after Ellis Park opened.