Oaklawn's Phenomenal Purse Growth Continues


Chris Ho, Vice President of Marketing
cho@oaklawn.com, 501-623-4411 ext. 4201

HOT SPRINGS, AR – The Oaklawn Jockey Club announced today the largest purse increase in the track’s 119-year history. Purse distribution for the upcoming 2023-2024 season is set for $60 million. That will be a $10 million or 20% increase over last season’s record-setting $50 million distribution. And it means average daily purses will top $900,000.

When the season starts on December 8, purses for allowance races will be $140,000 - $145,000, maiden special weights will be $115,000, and the minimum purse on any race will be $30,000.

In making the announcement, Oaklawn President Louis Cella said that what has happened to Oaklawn purses in recent years is nothing short of phenomenal.

“Let me put this in perspective,” Cella said. “Our season purses will be three times greater than they were just 10 years ago. And we’ve made sure it’s been across all levels of our racing product.”

Cella credits the record purses to the racing-gaming model the track has developed over the last 20 years and to a massive $100 million expansion project that was recently completed.

“We are proving that racing and gaming not only can co-exist, but they can actually enhance each other,” Cella added. “And we’re really seeing it now that we’ve finished our luxury trackside hotel, events center and spa.”

“It’s remarkable what is happening at Oaklawn,” longtime Arkansas Racing Commission Chairman Alex Lieblong said. “I think it’s the best story in American racing today.”

In conjunction with record purses, Oaklawn and the Arkansas HBPA will again offer participation bonuses to owners and trainers. Owners will receive $200 for every starter during the season. Trainers will receive $250 for any starter that does not finish first, second or third.

“We worked with Oaklawn to launch this program a year ago,” said HBPA President Bill Walmsley. “And I’ve heard nothing but positive comments from horsemen.”

The record growth in purse levels for overnight races is also echoed in Oaklawn’s stakes program, which was announced recently. A record 47 stakes races will be run during the season, offering a record $16.2 million in purses, with the Arkansas Derby (G1) increased to $1,500,000 and the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), the Rebel (G2) and the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) bumped from $1,000,000 to $1,250,000 each.

“The stakes program draws a lot of attention and deservedly so,” Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith said. “But the overnight races are the heart of our racing program. And it’s very gratifying to be able to lift purses across the board so that everyone racing with us benefits.”

Oaklawn’s 2023-2024 season will kick off Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, and continue for 66 race days through the first Saturday in May. Racing will generally be Friday through Sunday throughout the season, but Thursdays will be added to the racing calendar in parts of March and April. There will also be two Monday cards -- New Year’s Day and Presidents’ Day Monday (Feb. 19).

Horsemen can download condition books, stall applications and other information on the Oaklawn web site via https://www.oaklawn.com/racing/horsemen/

Stall applications for the season are due Thursday, Oct. 5.

The chart below shows Oaklawn’s season purse distribution since 2000.

Located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Oaklawn is one of the premiere Thoroughbred racetracks in the country since 1904, best known as home of the Arkansas Derby. The casino features slots, live table games, and sports betting year-round. Live racing is held Dec-May and simulcast racing throughout the year. Come visit the Oaklawn hotel, multi-purpose event center, state-of-the-art spa, and several dining options. Oaklawn.com, 1-800-OAKLAWN.