Santa Anita Park is raising its daily overnight purse distribution 10% for the 2020-21 season, track officials announced Saturday.
The increase will bring the average daily purse money available to horsemen to more than $533,000, totaling more than $43 million for the upcoming season, which is scheduled to begin on Dec. 26 and run through June 20, 2021, pending approval by the Thoroughbred Owners of California.
Like other horse racing tracks in Southern California, Santa Anita has been holding races without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 84th season will be highlighted by a diverse stakes schedule offering over $15 million, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, which has produced 19 winners of the Kentucky Derby, on April 3.
“Building Santa Anita’s aggressive overnight purse schedule is a reflection of the confidence that we have in California racing even in the midst of a pandemic,” said Craig Fravel, CEO of 1st Racing. “Nothing has been easy about this past year, so we are thankful to the horsemen who have continued to support our program on a daily basis. We’ve missed the fans who have been absent from our track since March 12th, but we are grateful to be able to bring them the consistent top-quality racing that has been synonymous with Santa Anita since 1934.”
Purses at Santa Anita, like all California racetracks, are derived from a percentage of the handle wagered on the track’s races, as opposed to other jurisdictions where purses are supplemented with casino revenue and other forms of wagering.
Last month, the track wrapped up its 16-day autumn meet without any horse racing or training fatalities, which was notable since a rash of equine deaths at Santa Anita in 2019 prompted increased scrutiny of the sport and a slate of new safety protocols.
Sixteen horses died in racing or training-related incidents during Santa Anita’s 2019-20 winter/spring meet, which wrapped up June 21.
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