Mother Nature Provides Boost to Oaklawn

Arkansas track raced seven more days in 2012 than in 2011.

Unlike 2011, when the meet was hampered by inclement weather, Oaklawn Park raced seven more days this year, resulting in increases in total purses, attendance, and handle, while daily averages declined in each category.

The 56-day meet, which concluded April 14 with a victory by Bodemeister  before a crowd of 63,804 in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I), produced four purse increases. Total purse distribution of $18,014,814 represented a 13.9% increase over the $15,794,450 figure for the 49-day meet in 2011, according to figures compiled by The Jockey Club Information Systems. Average daily purses declined slightly from $322,336 in 2011 to $321,693 this year.

The Hot Springs, Ark., track reported total attendance of 592,431 and a daily average of 10,579. In 2011, attendance averaged 11,649 from a total 570,821. Wagering for the meet totaled $155,532,790 for a daily average of $2,777,371, compared with total and average handle of $151,623,944 and $3,094,366, respectively, in 2011.

“We couldn’t have scripted the season any better,” said assistant general manager of racing David Longinotti. “Good weather and great horses brings out the racing fans, especially in Arkansas.”

Oaklawn will open for the 2013 live season Friday, Jan. 13. The 56-day meet will run through April 13, 2013.