by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

By Ray Paulick

Horsemen getting their first look at the initial condition book for the million-dollar-a-day 2010 Monmouth Park meeting might ask someone to pinch them to make sure they aren't dreaming. The prize money is almost too good to believe (click here to view the first book, which covers racing from May 22-June 20).

Maiden special weight races will carry purses of $75,000, up from $38,000 at Monmouth Park last year and $20,000 higher than Saratoga's $55,000 maiden special weight races in 2009. Other maiden purses in the region go from $19,600 at Mountaineer Park, to $24,000 at Pimlico, $34,000 at Penn National, $38,000 at Delaware Park, and $40,000 at Philadelphia Park. Keeneland's maiden special weight purses were $50,000 in 2009.

Entry-level allowance races will offer $80,000 purses at Monmouth compared with $41,000 in 2009. Other comparable allowance purses from 2009 were $55,200 at Saratoga, $54,000 at Keeneland, $41,000 at Philadelphia Park, $39,000 at Delaware Park, $36,000 at Penn National, and $30,000 at Pimlico.

Horsemen with low-level claimers will find $30,000 up for grabs in Monmouth Park's $5,000 claiming races, up from $14,000 last year. By comparison, 2009 purses for $5,000 claimers ranged from $17,000 at Philadelphia Park, $15,000 at Churchill Downs, $13,000 at Delaware Park and Penn National, $12,700 at Mountaineer Park, and $8,000 at Pimlico.

Monmouth Park's overnight stakes will be worth $100,000 each.

The 50-day meeting, aided by $20 million from New Jersey casinos, will offer 12 races per day on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday basis. The meeting will be watched closely by track executives around the country who have been much more tentative in cutting back on the number of racing days, some from six to five days per week or from five to four. Monmouth Park's general manager, Robert J. Kulina, has received stall applications from many of the top stables throughout the country, including California-based trainer Bob Baffert, who has never kept a string at Monmouth Park.

There is no question the magnet of Monmouth's super-sized purses will weaken the overnight programs at other tracks. It remains to be seen how much of an impact the higher purses, anticipated larger fields and higher-quality program will have on pari-mutuel handle.

Copyright © 2010, The Paulick Report

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