Santa Anita Park announced a purse increase of 5% on Feb. 10, which will result in overnight purse distribution at the Arcadia, Calif., track of approximately $300,000 per day."This increase is effective immediately and will be retroactive to opening day (Dec. 26)," said Santa Anita president Ron Charles, who cited good weather, full fields, and brisk business for the purse hike. "We want to thank our owners and trainers for really stepping up here at this meet. We're currently averaging 9.1 horses per race, and this is fueling some dramatic increases in handle. Our customers want depth. They want value and, thanks to our horsemen, we've been able to deliver."Through Feb. 8, Santa Anita reports its on-track pari-mutuel handle was up 20%. Out of state handle had shown a 21% increase, it said, and all sources handle, which includes advance deposit wagering, was up about 19%. In addition to the increases in pari-mutuel handle, attendance at Santa Anita has been strong as well. Through Wednesday, on-track attendance was up 25%, according to Santa Anita. No specific numbers were provided. "The numbers have exceeded our greatest expectations," said Charles. "We've been blessed with good weather, and we just hope that continues. Santa Anita is an icon on the Southern California sports landscape, and it's been thrilling to see big crowds again and a real sense of excitement here at the races.""We got off to a great start on opening day, and we've been able to keep the momentum going," said Michael Harlow, Santa Anita's director of racing. "Along with the horsemen, our marketing efforts and the exposure we've been getting in the media have contributed to our overall success thus far. This (purse) increase should enable us to finish up strong."Santa Anita's 86-day meeting will conclude on April 23.
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