Trainers who race at Oaklawn during the 2022-2023 season, will be eligible to receive thousands of dollars in incentive bonuses, thanks to a new program sponsored by Oaklawn and the Arkansas H.B.P.A. The meet begins Friday, December 9 and continues through Saturday, May 6.

The new Stay Until May bonus will pay trainers $200 - $250 for every non-stakes starter that fails to hit the board. The only eligibility requirement is trainers will have to run at least two horses during the final 14 days of the season including one during the final nine days. The total bonus payout could reach as high as $750,000.

“We’ve always taken great pride in the fact that Oaklawn has among the largest fields in American racing,” Oaklawn Racing Secretary Pat Pope said. “And, while the trainers of the top finishers are richly rewarded, this enables us to also show appreciation to trainers who help make our races go even if their starters finish fourth or further back.”

Pope said the concept surfaced last May in meetings between Oaklawn management and the Arkansas H.B.PA. Once finalized, it was unanimously endorsed by the full board of the Arkansas H.B.P.A. and President Bill Walmsley. The exact bonus will be $200 for every non-stakes starter that finishes fourth through last from opening day through Sunday, April 2. The bonus will then increase to $250 starting April 7.

“The Arkansas H.B.P.A. felt there were several reasons to endorse this bonus program, but mainly we wanted to try to help the trainers with the small to mid-sized operations,” Walmsley said. “The racing industry is a lot healthier with these trainers in business. We’re fortunate at Oaklawn to have a healthy purse account, so it seemed like a good time to implement this program and hopefully it will encourage horsemen to stay until the end.”

Purses are projected to be a record $50 million during the 2022-2023 season. This would put average purses at more than $735,000 per day. All allowance races will be more than $100,000 and maiden special weights will start at $90,000.

The first condition book and stall applications can be found at https://www.oaklawn.com/racing/horsemen/. Stall applications are due Thursday, October 13. The stable area opens Tuesday, November 1 and the track opens for training on Friday, November 4.