by Bob Kieckhefer
Hawthorne Race Course will offer bonus money for larger fields during its spring meet, track officials announced Dec. 26.
Using casino “impact” money released to racetracks by the courts, Hawthorne will add to the base purse of any race with eight or more starters.
For maiden claiming, claiming, and starter allowance and handicap races, the bonus will be $1,000 for a field of eight or nine starters, $2,000 for a field of 10 or 11, and $3,000 for a full field of 12. For maiden allowance, allowance, and optional claiming races, the bonuses will be $2,000, $4,000, and $6,000, respectively.
Hawthorne assistant general manager Jim Miller said the added money will help the track, horsemen, and bettors.
“For the horsemen, if they are running against a larger field with more competition, they should have the chance to race for more money,” Miller said. “For the track, along with the horsemen, we benefit from larger fields as we will generate more (pari-mutuel) handle, which leads to larger commissions and purses. And for the bettors, larger fields are always the greatest incentive to wager upon a race as they provide more wagering options and better value.”
The impact money, intended to mitigate the competition from casinos, has been allocated to run through 2013. The racing community is working to win approval for slot machines at the tracks to provide a continued flow of revenue after the casino funds are exhausted.
Hawthorne’s spring meet runs from Feb. 17-April 29.