Oaklawn News

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Tuesday, April 14, 2015) – Highlighted by a season high crowd of 67,500 and a scintillating performance by Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), Oaklawn’s 2015 live meet ended Saturday, April 11, with record-setting purses and increases in total handle.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better end to the season,” said Director of Racing David Longinotti. “We had picture-perfect weather the final week and unbelievable performances by champions Untapable and American Pharoah. We believe our fans witnessed something special this season, and hope that those memories will carry them through the Triple Crown season and beyond. We also wish the best of luck to all of the horsemen who participated in our racing program and look forward to welcoming them all back next year.”

With business good across the board – on track, off track, Oaklawn Anywhere, Instant Racing and gaming – Oaklawn was able to increase purses three times during the season. Total purses were a record $24.2 million, an average of $465,000 per day. This marked a 13% increase over 2014 and a 70% increase over just ten years ago.

Despite losing seven days to weather, total handle topped last year, $174,201,721 compared to $169,248,051.  Not only was the weather unkind, but it cost Oaklawn some of what would have otherwise been among the best days of the season, including opening weekend and President’s Day.

On the track, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. secured his third straight leading rider title, while trainer Chris Hartman earned his first Oaklawn trainer’s title after coming on strong the final month. Danny Caldwell was the leading owner for the second straight year.

Champion American Pharoah proved to be the horse of the meet after winning both the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and the Arkansas Derby in impressive fashion. He heads into the May 2 Kentucky Derby (G1) as the likely favorite where he will face 19 other 3-year-olds, including the locally owned and trained Far Right, winner of the  Smarty Jones and Southwest Stakes and Mr. Z, who was based at Oaklawn all winter with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Fantasy Stakes winner Include Betty and Fantasy runner-up Oceanwave are both headed to the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Oaklawn’s 2016 season begins Friday, Jan. 15 and continues through April 16, Arkansas Derby Day.

2015 Oaklawn at a Glance:

Days:                                  52
Total handle:                     174,201,721 (+3%)
Avg. Off-Track Handle:     $2,669,924 (+3)
Avg. Total Handle:            $3,350,033 (+1%)
Avg. Daily Purse Distribution: $465,000 (+13%)