Oaklawn Fights Winter Postponements With More Races, Bigger Purses
Scrambling to make up eight lost days of racing, Oaklawn Park officials announced a revamped schedule that not only reschedules its five canceled stakes races, but adds races and purse money to the Arkansas track’s schedule.
Oaklawn wasn’t the only American racetrack feeling the polar blast buffeting the Central and Eastern US. New York Racing Association officials canceled Aqueduct’s Thursday eight-race card. NYRA officials pulled the plug after the National Weather Service forecast upwards of 8 inches of snow throughout New York City.
NYRA said it plans to run Friday’s card as scheduled.
The ice storms already scrubbed two weekends at Oaklawn, postponing five stakes races over two weekends. Toward that end, Oaklawn rescheduled the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes and the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap for Saturday, Feb. 27. Those join the already-scheduled Spring Fever Stakes.
Oaklawn Putting $2 Million Back at Stake Here
The Grade 3 Bayakoa headlines the Sunday, Feb. 28 card, with the Dixie Belle and Downthedustyroad stakes on the Bayakoa’s undercard. All told, Oaklawn is reinstating nearly $2 million in stakes races for that weekend.
“There’s no fighting Mother Nature, especially when our priority is safety,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said in a statement. “However, we feel these changes will greatly benefit our horsemen and our fans by creating a huge weekend of racing to kick off the rest of the season.”
When Oaklawn resumes racing Feb. 25, the track plans increasing overnight purses by as much as $4,000 a race for the season’s duration. That will bump up maiden special weight purses from $82,000 to $86,000 on average. Top-level allowance races will increase from $88,000 to upwards of $92,000. That represents about a 5% average per overnight race.
More Money Means More Races
Along with this, comes more races. Oaklawn added 27 races to its season schedule. Those will go on two new race days: Wednesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 28.
State crowd restrictions limit attendance to Oaklawn box holders, Jockey Club members and those with dining/simulcast reservations. Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith did say he hopes to open the Oaklawn infield when the weather thaws in the coming weeks.