Highest Purses Ever for Oaklawn Park in 2003

Oaklawn Park will offer its highest purse structure ever when it opens Jan. 24, 2003 with daily average purses of $235,000 to $240,000.

The Hot Springs, Ark., racetrack is scheduled to race 54 days next year. The meet will run though April 12, with the Racing Festival of the South set for April 6-12.

"We were one of the few tracks in America to enjoy both increased mutuel handle and attendance during our 2002 live meet," Oaklawn general manager Eric Jackson said. "We have had a nice simulcast season and that, combined with substantial support for Instant Racing, has left us in the position that we can see our way clear for the increase in purses in 2003."

Oaklawn averaged just under $225,000 a day in purses for its 2002 meet. Instant Racing machines, which are pari-mutuel but have a slot-machine appearance, have generated about $500,000 for purses this year.

Racing secretary Pat Pope said the minimum purse for 2003 is set at $7,500. Maiden special weight events will go for $30,000, and open allowance events for $40,000.

"Our horsemen have supported us through some tough times, and we are pleased to be able to share the benefits of our good times as a result," Pope said. "All in all, there is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding this season, which will lead up to our Centennial in 2004."