Oaklawn Hikes Overnight, Two Stakes Purses

Apple Blossom, Oaklawn handicaps boosted to $600,000 apiece due to robust business.

Citing robust January business, Oaklawn Park Racing and Gaming announced it will increase all overnight purses by as much as $2,000 per race starting with the Saturday, Feb. 8 card.

Additionally, the purses for both the April 11 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) and April 12 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) have been increased by $100,000 to $600,000 guaranteed at the Hot Springs, Ark., track.

According to Oaklawn officials, races with a claiming price of $20,000 or less will receive a $500 purse increase. All other overnight races will increase by $2,000. This means open allowance purses will increase from $58,000 to $60,000, maiden special weights will jump from $55,000 to $57,000, and the minimum purse will increase from $17,000 to $17,500. 

Oaklawn had already planned the richest purse distribution schedule in the track's history when it began the 2014 racing season Jan. 10. Racing secretary Pat Pope said that the purse increase is a result of strong overall business in January and a redistribution of purses from the days Oaklawn had to cancel due to weather. Oaklawn's January business enjoyed increases in Instant Racing/gaming and on wagering around the country on Oaklawn's races, a track release said.

"We have enjoyed consistent purse increases for 10 straight years now," Pope said in a statement. "The purse schedule planned for this season was our most ambitious ever. So it's extremely gratifying we can make these increases so early in the season. It's always exciting to start a meet and have the fans and horsemen respond so enthusiastically. It's even more exciting knowing that racing in Arkansas is only going to get better from here."

The Oaklawn Handicap will likely attract champion Will Take Charge  and the Apple Blossom helped produce back-to-back Horse of the Year champions in Zenyatta and Havre de Grace in 2010 and 2011, respectively.