Phoenix – An estimated $4 million in purse money will be available when Turf Paradise opens its 84-day live meet, running from January 4 thru May 1, 2021.
Racing will be conducted on a 5-day a week basis, Monday thru Friday (a change from the original schedule of Saturday thru Wednesday). Kentucky Derby Day Saturday, May 1, will be the lone exception.
“Our numbers revealed a simple truth: we handle more on the weekdays than on the weekends, especially wagering coming from our out of state markets,” said track general manager Vincent Francia. “Better handle equals more purse money for the horsemen.”
The Phoenix-based track has been dark since having to curtail its live meet in progress on March 14 due to the Coronavirus. But simulcasting at the track and at Turf’s OTB system continued, accruing $2.1 million from March 14 to September 3. An additional $1.9 million is expected to be generated from then until Dec. 31, for a total of $4 million.
“The whole purpose of the January to May meet is to get money to the horsemen, to help them get back on their feet after the March cancellation,” said Francia. “Fans are welcome in limited number because of the Coronavirus. But the meet is really for the horsemen.”
The first floor of the Grandstand and outside on the track apron will be open for wagering. The Clubhouse and Turf Club will be closed.
Daily purses will range from $80,000 to $100,000.
“Because of the increased purse money we’re expecting to have plenty of horses,” said racing secretary Robbie Junk. “Bottom maiden claimers will race for $8,000 as compared to $6,300. Open allowance will be up to $23,500 from $19,000. And bottom $3,000 claimers will be racing from $9,000 instead of $7,000. “
Details are still being worked out with the Arizona Thoroughbred Breeders for their purses.
“What we know so far with the breed races is that they will be 5 to 10% higher than the open races,” said Junk. “I’m still working through the details with Marv Fleming (President, Az Thoroughbred Breeders).”