Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is planning an earlier start to its horse racing season by adding December race dates.
The Hot Springs track announced that it plans to begin its horse racing season on Friday, Dec. 3, hosting a 66-day season that lasts through Sunday, May 8, 2022. According to a company release, this 66-day season will be held largely on Friday-Sunday periods with no racing Dec. 24-26 or April 17.
“For many years, horsemen have wanted to race here in December to fill a gap in their racing schedule,” Oaklawn President Louis A. Cella said in a statement. “We have completed our resort expansion, including the opening of our luxury hotel, spa and event center. Therefore, the timing is right for another expansion – to our live racing season.”
Oaklawn officials are projecting to offer season purses in the range of $45-50 million for the coming season, and allowance races are expected to begin at $100,000.
This move to expand Oaklawn’s racing season comes on the heels of one of the company’s biggest expansions – the opening of its luxury hotel, spa and event center. In April 2021, Oaklawn officially opened the hotel, part of a $100 million expansion project.
As part of this expansion, Oaklawn expanded casino gaming, now offering more than 1,500 slot machines and 33 gaming tables,with a high limits section that has three high-limit blackjack tables and more.
Oaklawn officials plan to present the expanded horse racing season proposal to the Arkansas Racing Commission.