Citing across-the-board increases in all product lines during the first half of its 54-day season, Oaklawn officials announced March 6 a purse increase that will go into effect immediately. Through the first 27 days, Oaklawn was up in attendance, on-track handle and export handle.
“Numbers from the first half of our season are surprisingly good,” Oaklawn president Charles J. Cella said, “especially when you consider the current economy.”
Beginning with the 10-race card on March 6, all overnight claiming races will be increased by $300, and all allowance and maiden special weight races will be bumped $1,000, bringing maiden special weight races to $35,000.
On-track attendance at the midway point of the Oaklawn season is 279,189 this year compared with 269,797 in 2008, a 3% increase. The on-track handle numbers are tracking the same. Total on-track handle on Oaklawn races this year is $22,127,172, a 3% increase over last year ($21,541,545). Oaklawn has experienced a 6% growth in handle on its export signal - $68,615,324 in 2009 compared with $64,849,454 in 2008.
Field size is also on the upswing this year. Average number of starters at the midway point of the season this year is 9.86, a 5% increase over the same period last year, when average field size at this time was 9.36.
“We are very appreciative of all the owners and trainers participating in our racing program this year,” Cella said. “Racing fans enjoy full fields with competitive racing, and thanks to our horsemen, this has become an Oaklawn tradition.”
Racing at Oaklawn continues through April 11, when the season will conclude with the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II).