Citing an overall decline in wagering, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has canceled four stakes and cut purses for a dozen others, including the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), which went from $500,000 to $400,000.
Left unchanged at the New Orleans track owned by Churchill Downs Inc. is the $1 million purse for the March 29 Louisiana Derby (gr. II). The cancellations and reductions total $785,000.
"Given the early handle performance at the Fair Grounds 2013-14 meet, it has become necessary to make some reductions in purses," track president Tim Bryant said in a release. He noted Fair Grounds historically allocates more to stakes than do other tracks.
"Unfortunately, overall handle in the U.S. dropped by almost 11% year-over-year in the month of December," Bryant said. "This national trend along with an experience in poor weather and fewer races run at Fair Grounds has created this scenario.
"Rather than impact overnight purses, Fair Grounds has decided to strategically reduce some of the purses in stakes. While this is disappointing, we did consult with horsemen and it is the most prudent course of action. We are hopeful trends improve so that we do not have to impact overnight purses over the remainder of the Fair Grounds 2013-14 meet."
Bryant did not provide details of the handle declines; with the exception of special days and night racing, CDI-owned tracks do not release wagering figures.
The canceled stakes are:
Feb. 8: Tiffany Lass ($100,000)
March 1: Allen Lacombe Memorial Handicap ($75,000)
March 1: Black Gold Stakes ($75,000)
March 8: New Orleans Ladies ($150,000)
The races in which purses have been reduced are:
Jan. 25: Van Berg Stakes, from $75,000 to $60,000
Jan. 25: F.W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes, from $75,000 to $60,000
Feb. 1: Battle of New Orleans, from $75,000 to $60,000
Feb. 1: Happy Ticket Stakes, from $75,000 to $60,000
Feb. 22: Bayou Handicap, from $75,000 to $60,000
March 4: Mardi Gras Stakes, from $75,000 to $60,000
March 8: Duncan F. Kenner Stakes, from $150,000 to $100,000
March 15: Colonel Power Stakes, from $75,000 to $60,000
March 29: Crescent City Oaks, from $75,000 to $60,000
March 29: Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), from $500,000 to $400,000
March 29: Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. II), from $400,000 to $300,000
March 29: Crescent City Derby, from $75,000 to $60,000