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Laurel Park purses increasing by $26K per day

Officials from Laurel Park will increase its purses for non-stakes races by an average of $26,000 per day, which is a 16 percent increase from its winter meet.

The increases will start Feb. 2. Revenue from slot machines at Hollywood Casino Perryville gave the purses the boost, Maryland Jockey Club spokesman Mike Gathagan said Friday.

In December alone, $457,000 from the casino went to horse racing purses.

“When the casinos are doing fine, then we’ll do fine,” Gathagan said. “[The horsemen] are running for more money every day instead of looking at races elsewhere.”

Laurel’s average daily overnight purse target is now $186,000 versus the average of $160,000 during the winter meet that began Jan. 1.

“This will give our racing office a chance to compete with surrounding states [that] have used revenue from slot machines to become significant players in the mid-Atlantic region,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said in a statement Friday.

The average field size for the first 12 days of the meet has been 7.3 per race.

Live racing is conducted Wednesdays to Saturdays through the end of March. Racing shifts to Pimlico Race Course on Apr. 1.