Purse Hike, New HBPA Contract for Oaklawn

(from Oaklawn report)
Oaklawn Park will increase purses for all non-stakes races by $1,500 through closing day, April 10, Eric Jackson, the general manager of Oaklawn Park, announced Saturday.

"Our Centennial season has exceeded all our expectations, producing positive impacts for Oaklawn, horsemen and the Arkansas economy," Oaklawn president Charles J. Cella said after the purse increase was announced. "It is particularly appropriate that we end this banner year on a high note with the purse increase and a new purse contract."

In conjunction with the purse increase, Jackson announced that Oaklawn and the Arkansas division of the Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Assn. have reached an agreement on a new four-year contract, starting Jan. 1 and continuing through Dec. 31, 2008.

The contract was negotiated by Cella, Jackson and Oaklawn counsel Skip Ebel, and horsemen representatives Dr. Earl Bellamy, Leon Millsap, Bill Walmsley, Buddy Coleman and Bob Holthus.

"This has been Oaklawn's best season since the mid-90s," said Jackson. "Attendance is up 25 per cent over last year, the handle is up 22 to 24 per cent, and Instant Racing is up 50 per cent. The purse increase is an appropriate way to end our Centennial season on a high note. There has been back-slapping and high fives all around."