Arlington Park adds stakes, purse incentive for starters

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Aug. 28, 2017

Arlington Park has added seven overnight stakes, each worth $65,000, to round the 2017 meet that ends Sept. 23 and also has begun paying all starters a percentage based on the total purse.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association also announced that it has an agreement with Hawthorne Race Course to open the main track for training earlier than scheduled for its 2018 winter/spring meet.

The new overnight stakes will be run Sept. 2, 4, 9, 16, and 23, with two scheduled for each of the last two Saturdays of the meet. Effective immediately, horses that finish sixth through last will receive a payment equivalent to 1% of the purse; the payments won’t affect the amount normally paid to the top five finishers.

The ITHA in its newsletter said the new stakes and starter incentives stem from a “better than anticipated” meet at Arlington this year.

For 50 racing programs through Aug. 13, purses at Arlington have averaged $211,369 per day, according to ITHA statistics. For the 2016 meet, which spanned 74 days, Arlington paid an average of $197,463 per day in purses.

As for Hawthorne, it had planned to conduct Standardbred racing this winter through March 7, but the ITHA said that after a meeting with track management and the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, it was agreed the meet will end Feb. 19 to allow for Thoroughbred training to start earlier in advance of the meet that begins March 30.

The ITHA said if harness racing had ended March 7, Thoroughbred training wouldn’t have begun until March 12. It will now begin more than two weeks earlier than planned.

Hawthorne, which currently offers harness racing, will kick off its 2017 fall/winter Thoroughbred meet Oct. 6 and race through Dec. 30.

The Illinois Racing Board has scheduled its hearing on requests for 2018 racing dates for Sept. 26.

(Photo courtesy of ITHA)