Positive business trends, highlighted by large crowds, have led Oaklawn Park to announce its third purse increase of the meet effective Thursday, March 17.
Claiming races will be increased by $300 and all other overnight purses will be increased by $1,000. Oaklawn began the season with a minimum purse of $15,200 and after the third increase that minimum is now $16,500. The purses for maiden special weight races have increased from $36,000 to $41,000.
In addition, Oaklawn Park is adding two stakes races to the schedule and increasing the purses of three other stakes races, all to be held during the Racing Festival of the South April 9–16. Wednesday, April 13, the day added to the schedule after the weather related cancellations, will now feature a yet to be named $100,000 stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles and as a supporting feature to the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) April 15, the $75,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-olds going six furlongs last run in 2008.
The mainstays to the Racing Festival of the South receiving increases are the April 14 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III), which will go from $150,000 to $200,000 and the two supporting stakes on the April 16 Arkansas Derby Day card—the Northern Spur Stakes and the Instant Racing Stakes, which both get bumped by $25,000 to $100,000.
“We may have gotten off to a rough start with the weather, but since then, we have had tremendous support from our horsemen, but especially our fans,” said assistant general manager of racing David Longinotti.