Mountaineer Meet to Begin with 10% Purse Hike
Overnight purses will increase 10% when Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort begins its almost 10-month racing season March 1.
Rose Mary Williams, director of racing at the West Virginia track, said Jan. 29 the hike is possible because of "cash in the purse account" as well as 2013 schedule in which nine races instead of 10 will be run each night from March through August.
The track and Mountaineer Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association traditionally keep a cushion in the purse account, which relies heavily on revenue from video lottery terminals.
When the 2013 meet begins, open allowance races will carry a purse of $37,100, up from $33,600 when racing ended in December. Maiden special weight pots will increase to $19,400 from $17,600.
Open $5,000 claimers will compete for $12,500. The minimum purse of $8,100 is reserved for $5,000 maiden claimers.
In March 2012, purses averaged $108,364 per program at Mountaineer, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. The increase puts the 2013 figure at about $119,000.
Nine of the 13 stakes on this year's schedule will be held Aug. 3, the day of the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. II). The all-stakes program will include a $200,000 race and seven others worth $100,000.
Mountaineer will race five nights a week on a Friday-through-Tuesday schedule. The Derby program will be held in the afternoon.
Williams said Mountaineer has received stall applications from some trainers usually based in Canada in the spring, summer, and fall. Under a directive from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. slot machines were removed from Fort Erie Racetrack, and the border track's 2013 season remains in doubt.
The consortium that operates Fort Erie recently said its hopeful a deal can be worked out with the Ontario government to maintain live race meet.
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