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Oaklawn to Increase Purses

Hot Springs, Ark. (Tuesday, March 9, 2021) – Oaklawn has announced the largest mid-season purse increase in the history of the track. Over the final eight weeks of the season, Oaklawn will pump another $2.5 million into overnight races, including increasing top allowance races to $110,000. The 15% across the board increase also takes maiden special weights to $93,000 and raises the bottom purse to $27,000.

“It’s been an interesting year to say the least, but it is very gratifying to announce this purse increase nearly a year after shutting the race meet and casino down to fans because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “I wasn’t sure we’d get here a couple of weeks ago with all the bad winter weather, but our horsemen and fans are resilient. February ended with a tremendous weekend of racing and it was exciting to see fans back in the Infield last week. I have no doubt the final eight weeks of racing are going to be exciting, especially with some of our marquee races still to come.”

Saturday’s 12-race card will be highlighted by the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds with Arkansas Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) aspirations, as well as the $500,000 Essex Handicap, $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2), $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes, and $150,000 Temperence Hill Stakes. First post is 12 noon.

“Rebel Stakes weekend has grown to be almost as big as Arkansas Derby Day and we’re excited to be able to welcome more fans back just in time for the richest racing in our history,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “Weather permitting, the Infield will be open every Saturday throughout the end of the meet. The Infield is truly a rite of spring and it was certainly missed last year.”

Oaklawn’s 2021 live meet continues through Saturday, May 1.

Located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Oaklawn has been one of the premiere Thoroughbred racetracks in the country since 1904, best known as home of the $1 million Arkansas Derby. The Vegas-style casino features slots, live table games, and sports betting year-round. Live racing held Jan-May and simulcast racing throughout the year. Opening early 2021 are a 200-room luxury hotel, multi-purpose event center, state-of-the-art spa and new dining options. Website – http://www.Oaklawn.com, Phone – 1-800-OAKLAWN.

OAKLAWN RESCHEDULES ALL MISSED STAKES; ADDS DAYS AND RACES

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2021) – After losing eight days of racing due to record-breaking winter weather, Oaklawn announced today a series of changes to its racing schedule designed to restore as much of the season as possible for the benefit of horsemen, including moving all five canceled stakes to Feb. 27 and 28.

The schedule and purse changes include:

  • Immediately bringing back $2.1 million in canceled stakes, including the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) and the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3), which will now be run Saturday, Feb. 27 along with the $200,000 Spring Fever Stakes.
  • Adding 27 races to the schedule.
  • Adding two new race days – Wednesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 28.
  • Increasing the purses on all overnight races by as much as $4,000 per race.

“There’s no fighting Mother Nature, especially when our priority is safety,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “However, we feel these changes will greatly benefit our horsemen and our fans by creating a huge weekend of racing to kick off the rest of the season.”

The purse increase will go into effect Thursday, Feb. 25 when racing is scheduled to resume. The weekend will be highlighted by a total of six stakes races starting Saturday when the $750,000 Southwest, $600,000 Razorback, and the $200,000 Spring Fever will be run. Sunday will be highlighted by the $250,000 Bayakoa (G3), $150,000 Dixie Belle, and $150,000 Downthedustyroad. Nominations for all stakes were reopened and will close Friday, Feb. 19.

The purses increases will average 5% per overnight race, meaning maiden special weights will be increased from $82,000 to $86,000 and top allowance races will increase from $88,000 to as much as $92,000.

Cella said these late-breaking changes would not have been possible without the input and assistance of Arkansas Racing Commission Chairman Alex Lieblong and HBPA President Bill Walmsley.  “Winter dealt us a bad hand,” said Cella.  “With their help, we truly are making lemonade out of lemons and with these changes, the balance of the season will be terrific.”

Due to Arkansas restrictions on crowd size, attendance at Oaklawn for live racing is limited to box holders, Oaklawn Jockey Club members, and patrons with dining/simulcast reservations. However, Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith anticipates being able to open the Oaklawn infield and other outdoor areas to fans in the coming weeks. Reservations can be made by calling 501-363-4660, Mon-Sat, for that week’s races only.

For more information, visit http://www.Oaklawn.com.

Nominations for all stakes were reopened and will close Friday, Feb. 19.

Saturday, Feb. 27 Stakes – Entries to be drawn Tuesday, Feb. 23

$750,000 Southwest (G3)

$600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3)

$200,000 Spring Fever

Sunday, Feb. 28 Stakes – Entries to be drawn Wednesday, Feb. 24

$250,000 Bayakoa (G3)

$150,000 Dixie Belle

$150,000 Downthedustyroad

OAKLAWN CANCELS SATURDAY – MONDAY; RESCHEDULES THREE GRADED STAKES FOR FEB. 20

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021) – Due to the predicted winter weather expected in Hot Springs over the next few days, Oaklawn is canceling its extended Presidents’ Day weekend, Saturday, Feb. 13 – Monday, Feb. 15, and is rescheduling the three graded stakes and one listed stakes.

The $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3), $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3), and $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) will now be run Saturday, Feb. 20 and the $150,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and $150,000 Downthedustyroad Stakes will be run Sunday, Feb. 21.

“The weather forecast does not look promising this weekend between the ice and frigid temperatures, so out of consideration for the safety of the horses, our horsemen and fans, we wanted to make this call as soon as possible,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “We appreciate the cooperation we have received from our horsemen and Racing Commission. Though we are frustrated Mother Nature has thrown us a curveball, our rescheduled stakes will create a spectacular weekend of racing next week.”

Oaklawn expects to run the Thursday and Friday cards as scheduled. Post time is at 1 p.m. on both days. The casino and simulcast racing will remain open all weekend. No reservations will be required for seating in the simulcast area this weekend only, first come, first served.

Entries for the Saturday, Feb. 20 card will be taken on Sunday, Feb. 14. Oaklawn will run 11 races next Saturday and 10 races next Sunday.

All reservations made for Saturday, Feb. 13 – Monday, Feb. 15 have been canceled. Fans wishing to attend the races Feb. 18 -21 must call 501-363-4660 starting at 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 15. Reservation lines are open Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.Oaklawn.com.

Another Milestone For Asmussen: 700 Career Wins At Oaklawn

Steve Asmussen became the second trainer to reach 700 career victories at Oaklawn when even-money favorite Swiftsure captured Saturday’s seventh race at under Ricardo Santana Jr.

Asmussen entered the 2021 Oaklawn meeting that began Friday with 696 career victories at the Hot Springs, Ark., track. He saddled one winner Friday and added victories in Saturday’s fourth race with favored Jalen Journey ($4.40) and sixth race, the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes, with favored Silver State ($3.80) before reaching the career milestone with Swiftsure ($4).

A two-time Eclipse Award winner (2008 and 2009) as the nation’s outstanding trainer, Asmussen, 55, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2016. He is seeking his record-tying 11th Oaklawn training title.

 

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Oaklawn Trims Purses at Start of Meet

Approximate 15% reduction in overnight purses from first condition book.

Overnight purses have been reduced in advance of the start of the Oaklawn Park meet, a 57-day run which will begin Jan. 22. The Arkansas track is making the move due to limiting attendance because of social distancing requirements because of COVID-19. The news was first reported by Mary Rampellini of Daily Racing Form, who reported average daily purses will be about $600,000 instead of the originally projected $700,000, for about a 15% reduction. Stakes purses will not be altered.

An Oaklawn spokesperson confirmed the track’s first condition book is being reprinted with the new overnight purse structure.

OAKLAWN TO ALLOW A LIMITED NUMBER OF FANS IN 2021

Pursuant to the Arkansas Department of Health directive, Oaklawn plans to conduct the 2021 live meet with limited spectators. The 57-day season runs from Friday, Jan. 22 – Saturday, May 1.

“We’ve been working on plans covering numerous scenarios and we’re happy to announce we will be welcoming back race fans in 2021, albeit on a limited basis,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “We know that the fans are what make Oaklawn so special, but our main concern is for the safety and well-being of our guests and team members. We appreciate the support we have received from the Arkansas Department of Health in developing this plan. We will be working with them throughout the live season and will adjust as needed.”

In accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Arkansas Department of Health, Oaklawn has submitted a plan to allow a limited number of spectators at the races during the 2021 live race meet highlighted by the following:

• General admission into the Grandstand will not be allowed initially in 2021.
• Entrance into the Grandstand will strictly be for guests with a racing credential and/or reservation for that day’s races. Doors will open at 11 am.
• Current seasonal box seat holders and current Oaklawn Jockey Club members may enter the Grandstand with weekly reservations required. Detailed correspondence to be sent separately to these individuals.
• Restaurants inside the Grandstand, following Arkansas Department of Health directives, will be open to the public with weekly reservations required.
• Simulcast will be open Wednesday–Sunday, 11 am–8 pm to limited capacity with weekly reservations required.
• Social distancing will be enforced.
• All guests and team members will be required to have non-invasive temperature checks as they enter the facility. Anyone presenting a temp at/over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will not be permitted inside the building.
• All guests and team members will be required to wear masks at all times.
• Smoking will not be allowed anywhere inside the facility, including the casino.

Restaurant reservations may be made starting January 18 by calling 501-363-4710.

Simulcast reservations may be made starting January 18 by calling 501-363-4320.

For additional details and future updates, please visit oaklawn.com.

OAKLAWN PLANNING 57-DAY MEET WITH FOUR $1 MILLION STAKES IN 2021

Pending approval from the Arkansas Racing Commission, Oaklawn plans to conduct its regular 57-day meet highlighted by four $1 million stakes races – $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2), $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) – and the richest purse structure in its 117-year history. The 2021 season, which will be accentuated by the opening of a multi-purpose event center and a luxury 200-room hotel overlooking the track, is scheduled to run Friday, Jan. 22 – Saturday, May 1.

In addition, 21 stakes will have their purses raised by at least $25,000, most notably are $150,000 increases to both the Essex Handicap on March 13 and Oaklawn Mile on April 10, which will be worth $500,000 and $400,000, respectively. The purse of the Razorback Handicap (G3) on Saturday, Feb. 13 will be raised by $100,000 to $600,000. All stakes, including ones for state-breds, will be at least $150,000 each.

“We would not be able to once again offer record purses next year if it weren’t for the tremendous support we’ve received from the Arkansas Racing Commission, the horsemen, and our fans in 2020,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “We are excited to continue building on our ‘New Level of Excellence,’ which will include our new hotel, event center, state-of-the-art spa, and additional restaurants, which are all on schedule to open late 2020/early 2021.”

Oaklawn’s rich 3-year-old program for horses with Kentucky Derby aspirations will begin opening day, Jan. 22, with the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and will culminate closing day, May 1, with the $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational. In between are the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) on Feb. 15, Presidents’ Day Monday, the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 13, and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 10.

Oaklawn’s five signature races that comprise the traditional Racing Festival of the South will be run over three Saturdays starting with the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies on Kentucky Oaks (G1) trail on April 3.

The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), a major stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby, will be run on April 10 along with three other stakes. Oaklawn’s series for older horses culminates on April 17 with the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and the $1 million Apple Blossom (G1) for fillies and mares.

“Once finalized, the full purse program will be released soon,” added Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith. “We anticipate it will exceed $700,000 a day.”

Oaklawn’s 2021 stakes schedule features a total of 33 races worth $11,000,000. Racing will be conducted Friday–Sunday for the first two weeks of the meet and then shift to a Thursday–Sunday schedule starting in February. There will be racing on Presidents’ Day – Monday, Feb. 15, but there will be no racing on Easter Sunday, April 4.

Located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Oaklawn has been one of the premiere Thoroughbred racetracks in the country since 1904, best known as home of the $1 million Arkansas Derby. The newly expanded Vegas-style casino features slots, live table games, and sports betting year-round. Live racing held Jan-May and simulcast racing throughout the year. Opening early 2021 are a 200-room luxury hotel, multi-purpose event center, state-of-the-art spa and new dining options. Website – http://www.Oaklawn.com, Phone – 1-800-OAKLAWN.

No Parole Sprints to Victory in Oaklawn Allowance

Son of Violence rebounded from eighth in March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2).

 

The decision to return No Parole to shorter distances proved to be a good one for owners Maggi Moss and Greg Tramontin as the son of Violence  aired in a $61,000 allowance optional claiming race going six furlongs April 24 at Oaklawn Park.

Seeking to rebound from an eighth in the March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2) over a 1 1/16-mile trip, the Tom Amoss trainee was sent off as the even-money favorite in a field of 10 3-year-olds. He ran to his odds under Joe Talamo, finishing under wraps in a final time of 1:09.34 on a fast track.

 

Read BloodHorse Article

Storm the Court Confirmed for Arkansas Derby

Juvenile champion finished third in San Felipe Stakes (G2) last out.

 

Southern California-based trainer Peter Eurton said April 21 that he plans to have two entrants in the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) May 2 at Oaklawn Park, including juvenile champion Storm the Court.

The Court Vision  colt worked six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 April 20 at Santa Anita Park in advance of the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby, which will mark his first start outside California. Storm the Court, campaigned by Exline-Border Racing, David Bernsen, Susanna Wilson, and Dan Hudock, secured an Eclipse Award as the 2019 champion 2-year-old male with a frontrunning victory in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at 45-1.

Eurton said he also plans to enter ERJ Racing, Exline-Border Racing, and Hudock’s Shooters Shoot, a first-level allowance winner at a mile April 11 at Oaklawn, in the Arkansas Derby.

Read BloodHorse Article

Arkansas Derby Attracts 99 Nominations

Large number of candidates could lead to split divisions of grade 1 stakes.

 

Based on nominations alone, the $750,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) figures to have an overflow field.

The reality of the situation, with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) moved to Sept. 5 and the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) unlikely to be run in their traditional spots, also paints an equally compelling picture of a large field—and possibly two divisions—when the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds is contested May 2 at Oaklawn Park.

A long list of 99 nominations for the race, pending late mail, was released April 18, and while the vast majority of them have no intention of running, the connections of a core group of about 20 candidates have expressed an interest in a stakes that stands at the moment as the final points race for the Kentucky Derby. It is also five weeks removed from the last grade 1 stakes for 3-year-olds at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty about when the next major race for the division will be run.

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