In a bit of good news, Arlington Park's stakeholders give something that makes the revenue drivers - bettors - smile. They have worked together to tie purses to field size. According to studies, field size is the second most sensitive factor (takeout is first) with regards to handle.
In a continued effort to provide the wagering public the best racing product possible, Arlington Park and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association (ITHA) have reached an agreement to bank purse monies based upon the number of betting interests in all overnight races for the upcoming 2011 meet beginning with the Opening Day program on Friday, May 6.
The purses listed in the condition book for overnight races will be based upon a field of seven or more betting interests at the time the horses reach the paddock for a race. Any overnight race field that enters the paddock with six or fewer betting interests represented will run for 85% of the listed purse with the remaining 15% being banked in the purse account to prevent over-payments for those races.
“In talking to our bettors, they say that field size is their single biggest driver of wagering. As such it makes sense to base the purse of the race on the amount of wagering it generates,” said Arlington Park General Manager Tony Petrillo. “The reduced wagering on short fields results in a significant loss in handle and purse money generated for the horsemen. This banking program will allow us to maintain a sustainable purse structure at the most competitive time of the year.”
“The ITHA and Arlington management have committed to bank 15% of the purse, exclusive to fields of six or fewer betting interests, to insure overall purse levels remain stable throughout the 2011 race meet,”said ITHA President Mike Campbell.
“Several prominent horsemen were involved in this decision,” he continued. “It was a difficult decision but Arlington management and horsemen together are finding ways to better the Illinois horse racing industry and maintain the highest possible level of Thoroughbred competition even during these difficult economic times.”
Using a maiden special weight race as an example, the purse listed in the condition book would be $28,000. Should a field of six or fewer betting interests reach the paddock for the race, the purse for the race would be adjusted to $23,800.
Additionally, at the request of the horsemen, the purse values listed in the condition book will reflect the base purse with any bonuses listed as additions rather than being included in the purse. Again using an open maiden special weight race as an example, the purse listed will be $28,000, plus $10,080 in Illinois Owners Awards, rather than $38,080 including $10,080 in Illinois Owners Awards. With Illinois horses competing in open competition and running under Illinois owners' conditions, this posting will provide a clearer understanding of the amounts that each race participant has earned.
Spring Training for the 2011 season begins with the opening of the stable area for horsemen to set up their barns on Thursday, April 7 with the first horses set to arrive on the grounds on Saturday, April 9 at which time the training track will open. Spring Training on the main course will begin on April 17.