The 2022-23 racing season opened today Oaklawn Park. The first organized horse racing at Oaklawn began on February 24, 1905.
The Midwest track features some of the country’s top winter dirt racing. The 68-day racing season extends until Kentucky Derby day- May 6th.
Racing at Oaklawn boasts big fields, good betting races for handicappers, an excellent stakes program, and very strong purses fueled by gaming revenue from the Oaklawn Casino.
The track, located in Hot Springs, Arkansas will host 45 Stakes races offering purses of $13.75 million, and the total purse distribution for the five-month meet is projected to top $50 million.
With that kind of money up for grabs, you know the quality of the racing will be strong.
The Oaklawn Stakes program is headlined by the $1.25 million dollar Arkansas Derby, a Grade 1 race that will be run on April 1st (the first Arkansas Derby was run in 1936 for a purse of $5,000).
But that’s not all Oaklawn has to offer- there are three other races with million-dollar purses including the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on February 25th, the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 15th, and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 22nd.
The day-to-day dirt racing contested throughout the season at Oaklawn is on par with the best dirt racing being conducted anywhere at this time of year.
The track should be a point of focus for handicappers during the winter racing season.
Racing will be hosted mainly on a three-days-a-week basis, Fridays through Sundays, plus holidays. Thursdays will be added during the heart of the meet in March.
Oaklawn, which has no turf course, runs the vast majority of its races at three distances, six furlongs, one mile, and 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
The Oaklawn dirt track is a one-mile oval with two different finish lines, including an alternate finish line at the sixteenth pole which serves as the finish for one-mile races.
The second finish line has made a big difference for Oaklawn handicappers in one-mile races, raising the overall success rate for middle and outside post positions.
Good luck to all involved in this edition of racing at Oaklawn. Riders up !