Purse monies intended for Oaklawn Park during the four canceled days of racing this week will be redistributed starting Feb. 8 through the balance of the season, which concludes on April 14.
"We didn't want the horsemen to be penalized by the fact that racing needed to be postponed," said racing secretary Pat Pope Feb. 2. "So our plan is to add $1,000 to every purse, excluding stakes races, beginning with the races of Thursday, February 8. In addition, we will be bringing back a number of the lost races as extras in the next few weeks, since we know that many of the races were critical to the long-range plans of the horsemen with us. Plus we are bringing back the King Cotton Stakes next Friday. We believe that the total increase in the purses from all these changes will exceed $600,000 or greater."
A snowfall of approximately 1 1/2 inches hit Hot Springs on the evening of Feb. 1, continuing the wintry assault on the racing surface at Oaklawn. In addition low temperatures on Friday evening are projected to be in the teens, which will further complicate track maintenance. However, track officials hope to see training return to normal as conditions improve over the weekend.
"If everything goes well," added Pope, "We will be able to open the track for those horsemen who want to train sometime in the middle to late afternoon on Saturday. Some warm-up of temperatures should allow us to get back to normal by the beginning of next week."
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