Santa Anita Park has been forced to reduce its racing schedule over the next five weeks due to a lack of race-ready horses on the grounds, reports drf.com. The Stronach Group-owned facility will cancel the next five Thursday programs, racing Friday through Sunday until Memorial Day.
“As we progress, we'll see where we're at,” said TSG's chief operating officer Tim Ritvo. “We've lost some of our horse population.”
Entries have been in decline since Santa Anita shut down for 13 racing days in March. Last Sunday, only 47 horses started across the eight-race card and there are only 50 horses entered (before scratches) for this Sunday's eight races.
Santa Anita Park and the Thoroughbred Owners of California have announced a significant purse increase for all on non-stakes races through the next six weeks. The purse for each non-stakes race will be increased by $10,000. The increase will go into effect Friday, April 26th through June 2nd. The program will be evaluated for the remaining three weeks of the spring meet, which extends through June 23rd. Entries for Friday will be taken on Easter Sunday.
“We know the last few months have been tough on everyone especially our horsemen and owners, so working with the TOC we came up with an aggressive plan to boost all non-stakes purses for the next six weeks,” said Tim Ritvo, COO of The Stronach Group. “This has also been difficult on our customers, and we are working hard to improve the product to thank them for their continued support.”
“It's important to all of California horsemen for Santa Anita to close this meet on a strong note,” added TOC Chairman Nick Alexander. “We appreciate the purse supplements to be funded directly by the Stronach Group and welcome the opportunity to match those funds from the TOC purse account. This will result in over $1-Million of additional purse money for horsemen at Santa Anita in the next six weeks. Our hope is this is the first step in returning to the traditional four-day-a-week racing program at Santa Anita for our horsemen and racing fans.”
In addition to being the Southern California home to celebrate the Triple Crown races, the later part of Santa Anita's spring meet is anchored by two big racing events: Memorial Day Weekend featuring eight stakes races and Closing Weekend featuring seven stakes.
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