With the economy affecting all aspects of the racing industry, Santa Anita Park has adjusted its overnight purses downward about 10% for the upcoming winter-spring meeting that begins Dec. 26.
“We waited longer than we usually do so we could get more information,” said Mike Harlow, Santa Anita’s director of racing. “This is based on our projections after looking at what’s been happening at Hollywood, Oak Tree, and Del Mar.”
Purses for claiming and maiden-claiming races will be 10% lower than they were at the Santa Anita 2007-08 meeting. For example, a $32,000 maiden-claiming race will have an $18,000 purse going sprint distances and a $19,000 purse going routing distances, while a $32,000 claiming race will be $30,000 short and $32,000 long.
Harlow said purses for maiden special races and allowance races would be reduced slightly less than 10%. Maiden special races will be $45,000 short and $46,000 long. Allowance races will begin at $48,000 short and $52,000 long, and rising to $60,000 short and $63,000 long, depending on the conditions of the race.
“We also made some adjustments to our stakes schedule,” Harlow said.
Some stakes were reduced, such as the Jan. 17 San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) from $200,000 to $150,000, and the Feb. 7 Strub Stakes (gr. II) from $300,000 to $150,000. Others were increased, such as the Jan. 31 Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) from $250,000 to $300,000 and the Feb. 7 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) from $250,000 to $300,000. Most stakes that last year that carried a $75,000 purse were trimmed to $70,000 for the 2008-09 season, though some were raised to $100,000, especially those newly graded.
“We adjust our purses at the beginning of every racing season based on our projections,” Harlow said. “Hopefully, we’ll build momentum through the early part of the meeting and we can adjust purses upward.”
The 2007-08 Santa Anita season was plagued by the cancellations of several racing days because of the poor drainage of its Cushion Track synthetic surface. Harlow said that also made projections difficult. Santa Anita switched to Pro-Ride before the fall Oak Tree Racing Association meeting, a surface that met with generally good reviews from horsemen through that meet, which included the Breeders’ Cup.
Santa Anita is scheduled to open on its traditional day after Christmas. Opening day will include two graded events, the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on the main track, and the one-mile Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the turf, both for 3-year-olds.