HOT SPRINGS — Purses will be increased for 19 of 31 stakes races at Oaklawn Park in 2014 and the stakes schedule will be altered some, the thoroughbred track announced Wednesday.
The minimum purse for all open stakes races will jump from $60,000 to $100,000, while the minimum purse for state-bred stakes will increase from $60,000 to $75,000.
The purses for the Razorback Handicap and the Azeri Stakes were bumped from $50,000 each to $200,000. In addition, the Razorback was moved back a week to March 15 to create a Racing Festival of the South preview on one day. The $600,000 Rebel and the Azeri will be run that same day. Those three races are the final local preps for the Oaklawn Handicap, the Apple Blossom Handicap, and the Arkansas Derby.
The track is also returning to a more traditional Racing Festival of the South schedule with the big races extending over the final two weekends of the meet.
Scheduled on a Wednesday the past two years, the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the Kentucky Oaks path will be Saturday, April 5. The Count Fleet Sprint Handicap purse has been increased from $250,000 to $300,000 and will return to its traditional Thursday spot on April 10. The meet ends April 12 with the Oaklawn Handicap and the Arkansas Derby.