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Contact: David Zenner
ARLINGTON TO INCREASE MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT AND ALLOWANCE RACE PURSES
Two Stakes Races Also Receive Boost from Breeders’ Cup Funds
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (May 25, 2006) -- Two days before the start of the racing season at Arlington Park, track officials announced a $2,000 per race purse increase for all maiden special weight and allowance races effective with the opening day card, Friday, May 5. The purse hike can be attributed to additional purse money generated by an increase of the dark time host period coupled with an earlier opening day that allows Arlington Park to host the simulcast of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby for the first time.
“We are glad to be able to share the additional money generated through the windows during the dark time with our horsemen,” said Arlington Park Vice President of Racing and Racing Secretary Kevin Greely in making the announcement. “We are grateful to the horsemen who have come to Arlington early to participate with us on opening weekend. We want to ensure that they benefit right from the start of the meet.”
“It’s always a good sign when purses are increased,” said trainer Joe Kasperski Jr., who also serves as president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (ITHA). “The horsemen and the racing office got together to evaluate how much money was available and we concluded that we could increase allowance conditioned races by $2,000 a pop.”
“Anything right now is a help to the industry,” said longtime Arlington-based trainer Chris Block. “We need all the help we can get. This isn’t going to cure everything, but hopefully down the road we’ll get more relief.”
“It’s good but it’s still not enough,” trainer Jerry Calvin concurred. “With the expenses to train horses today, we really need higher purses. Hopefully this horse racing bill (HB 1918) will pass.”
Also, Breeders’ Cup Ltd. has earmarked an additional $100,000 in purse money to Arlington Park’s stakes program, $50,000 each to the Round Table Stakes on July 15 and the Arlington Oaks on Aug. 19. The Round Table Breeders’ Cup Stakes will now carry a purse of $150,000 as will the Arlington Breeders’ Cup Oaks.
“The Arlington Oaks was restored to Grade III status for this year’s renewal and we felt it was deserving of the purse increase,” Greely said.
Arlington Park -- the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- will run a 95-day meet in 2006 from Friday, May 5 through Tuesday, Sept. 12. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Lucky's featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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