2017 Belmont Park Fall Meet – All Sources Handle Rises Significantly

Press Release

Average daily handle up 12.5 percent

Average field size up 7.5 percent

Despite racing three fewer days compared with 2016, and the full cancellation of the closing day card due to severe weather, the Belmont Park fall meet generated all-sources handle of $303,405,927, a 3.6 percent increase over the 2016 Belmont fall meet.

Average daily handle over the course of the 35 days of racing was $8,668,741, a 12.5 percent increase over 2016.

Average field size for the 329 races contested from September 8 to October 28 was 8.17, a 7.5 percent increase over 2016.

2017 Belmont Park Fall Meet

  • All-sources handle: $303,405,927
  • All-sources average daily handle: $8,668,741
  • Average field size: 8.17
  • Race days: 35
  • Races: 329
  • 2017 On-track handle: $37,259,201
  • 2017 Betting interests: 2,687

2016 Belmont Park Fall Meet

  • All-sources handle: $292,799,814
  • All-sources average daily handle: $7,705,258
  • Average field size: 7.60
  • Race days: 38
  • Races: 354
  • On-track handle: $37,566,563
  • Betting interests: 2,692

How Thoroughbred Horse Racing Bets on Science, and Wins

copyright AgameofSkill.com 2016There’s no test to show a one-eyed horse named Patch could make it to this year’s Kentucky Derby . There’s no test for coming up from behind and winning the whole thing, So It Is-style. This story appears in the fall 2017 edition of CNET Magazine.

Source: How horse racing bets on science, and wins

British Horse Racing Targets True Fans Among Younger Players

Ascot racecourse in UKHorse racing in England is on an “upward curve” but faces challenges in keeping both the traditionalists and the younger generation happy, a leading figure in the sport says. Paul Fisher, chief executive of Jockey Club Racecourses, which is responsible for blue riband events such as the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National, said it is… [Read more…]

Is Horse Racing Dead? New Mexico Track Reports Gains

Press Release: Albuquerque Downs

Albuquerque Downs ended its 57-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse race meet on September 24, recording increases in total wagering handle and average daily purse distribution.

A total of $13,078,819 was wagered on Albuquerque Downs’ 543 live races, an increase of 3 percent over the $12,706,327 wagered on the track’s 582 live races during its 60-day season in 2016. Of the total wagered this year, $3,284,178 was bet on track and $9,794,641 was wagered at off-track sites.

horse racing blinkersAlbuquerque Downs’ average daily handle on its live races reached $229,453 per day, an increase of 8 percent over last year’s average daily handle of $211,772. The track’s average-per-race handle — $24,086 — was 10 percent higher than the 2016 average-per-race handle of $21,832.

Much of Albuquerque Downs’ handle increase can be attributed to the fact that, for the first time in its history, the track’s all-Thoroughbred Wednesday programs were featured on TVG starting on July 26.

Horsemen benefited from Albuquerque Downs’ brisk business, as the track paid $9,317,484 in purses for 57 days, down less than 1 percent from the $9,406,287 paid for 60 days in 2016. However, average daily purses in 2017 reached $163,465, up 4 percent over the 2016 average of $156,771, and the 2017 average-per-race purse of $17,159 was 6 percent higher than last year’s average-per-race purse of $16,162.

Albuquerque Downs’ 2017 season was scheduled for 58 days, but one date — Friday, August 11 — was canceled due to weather conditions.

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* * * * * * * * * *

Alfredo Juarez Jr. was Albuquerque Downs’ leading Thoroughbred jockey with 51 wins from 160 mounts, nine more than runner-up Elvin Gonzalez, who rode 42 winners from 188 mounts. Juarez also led all Albuquerque jockeys with mount earnings of $708,540.

Albuquerque Downs’ leading Thoroughbred trainer, Justin Evans, prepped the winners of 39 races from 127 starters, 20 more than runner-up Henry Dominguez, who won 19 races from 105 starters. Evans also finished first in starter purse earnings at $561,075.

Jose Luna Silva topped all Albuquerque Downs Thoroughbred owners with 11 winners from 32 starters, five more than runner-up Solitaire Stable, which won six races from 30 starters. The father-and-son team of Sam E. Stevens and Sammy L. Stevens of Lamesa, Texas, topped the track’s owner standings with purse earnings of $115,795.

* * * * * * * * * *

On the Quarter Horse side, Isaias Cardenas was Albuquerque Downs’ leading jockey with 30 wins from 172, two more than J. Martin Bourdieu, who won 26 races from 132 Quarter Horse mounts. Agustin Silva topped all Quarter Horse riders in purse earnings with $458,538 from just 41 mounts.

Jesus Carrete topped all Albuquerque Downs Quarter Horse trainers with 30 wins from 76 starters, 16 more than runner-up Ernest Fennell, who prepped the winners of 14 races from 32 starters. The winner of the $252,515 La Fiesta Futurity on closing day with Strykr Force, Carrete also topped the track’s trainers in purse earnings at $502,939.

Jesus M. Estrada was Albuquerque Downs’ leading Quarter Horse owner with 10 wins from 19 starters, two more than Carrete, who won eight races from 17 of his own starters. Carrete, who is also the owner of Strykr Force, topped all Albuquerque Quarter Horse owners in purse earnings at $212,238.

* * * * * * * * * *

The many outstanding equine performances at Albuquerque Downs, which paid a track-record $1.5 million in purses during its closing weekend (September 23-24), were topped by reigning American Quarter Horse Association world champion Jessies First Down. A homebred 6-year-old gelding trained by Jimmy Padgett for owner Ted G. Abrams of Houston, Jessies First Down won the September 24, $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship, which for the first time in its three-year history offered its winner a berth in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos.

Albuquerque’s richest and most prestigious stakes for Thoroughbreds, the 1 1/8-mile, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap on August 5, was won by Richard Keith’s American Dubai. Rodney Richards trained the 4-year-old Virginia-bred colt.

* * * * * * * * * *
Live horse racing will resume at Albuquerque Downs on June 29, 2018. The scheduled 55-day season will run through September 23.

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

France Chantilly France’s Biggest Horse Race

… including horse races, come with a hefty price tag to attend, tickets to the Arc start at … and the entrance fee is waived for anyone under 18. Comparatively, a general admission ticket to the Kentucky Derby costs $40 six months out …

NY Times Source: Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe: 6 Facts About France’s Biggest Horse Race

Another Strong Horse Racing Meet. NJ’s Monmouth Park Reports Gains

Press Release

The curtain closed Sunday on a successful Monmouth Park season with the racetrack showing across the board gains in attendance and handle for the 50-day meet, which commenced back on May 13, 2017.

On-track wagering averaged $424,556, a 7.9% increase over last year’s average when the track ran 57 days. Simulcast handle showed a slight increase to average $3,050,257, which represents .4% more than last year’s average. Attendance was up 7.4%, with an average of 9,234 fans pouring through the gates daily.

“This year’s numbers are indicative that people continue to support racing in New Jersey,” said Dennis Drazin, Chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack. “We continue to operate at a distinct disadvantage to our neighbors, who have alternative revenue streams boosting their purses. Nevertheless, fans embrace our product, our determination has never wavered, and people continue to make Monmouth Park one of the top destinations in the state.”

Monmouth Park by Rich Nilsen

copyright 2016 AGameofSkill.com

Top training honors went to Jorge Navarro, who captured his record-tying fifth consecutive title. Navarro sent out 65 winners at the meet, besting the all-time record he set last year with 59 winners. Leading jockey was Nik Juarez, who won 75 races en route to capturing his first Monmouth title. Hector Diaz Jr., who arrived in New Jersey in June, was leading apprentice, piloting 30 winners, good for fifth in the overall standings. And, top owner was John J. Brunetti’s Red Oak Stable, who won 13 races this season.

The 2017 season marked the sixth since Darby Development began operations at the racetrack. Since that time, the facility has seen the advent of the very popular Blu Grotto restaurant, the opening of the Blu Grotto Beer Garden, Blue Grass Mini Golf and the William Hill Race & Sports Bar.

Operations off-track have expanded to include the Hillsborough OTW and exchange wagering, making New Jersey the only state to offer this innovative form of gaming.

“Our accomplishments have been many, but much work remains to be done,” Drazin said. “We continue to explore new revenue sources and are cautiously optimistic for a favorable outcome when the Supreme Court delivers a final verdict on our more than five-year fight to bring sports betting to New Jersey.”

Live Thoroughbred racing continues in New Jersey at the Meadowlands on Sept. 22 with eight all-turf programs.

Santa Anita in 2017 Reports Handle, Attendance Gains

Is Horse Racing Dead?

Santa Anita Park’s all-sources handle for its 103-day racing season, which began Dec. 26 and concluded July 4, showed a $23.5 million increase over last season, a 2.5% gain, according to track officials.

Source: Santa Anita Reports Handle, Attendance Gains

‘Sport of Kings’ Must Embrace the Younger Players

Melbourne_Australian racing“Engage them and they will come back, lots of people who go racing feel they don’t have a voice but if racing authorities connect with them there are a lot of potential soldiers out there to come marching in through the gates.

“There is nothing like a day at the races and horse racing is a truly great sport.”

Racing must engage the young through social media to ensure the ‘Sport of Kings’ attracts a fresh audience and source of revenue, says influential racing blogger Stephen Power. Power, who attracted over 12,000 followers on Twitter in just 18 months with his views on racing, is impressed by the amount of young people attending race meetings.… [Read more…]

Is Horse Racing Dead? Tremendous 2017 Del Mar Meet

Press Release

Del Mar closed out a stellar 78th summer season that featured competitive cards and full fields throughout its 36-day stand when Bolt d’Oro came roaring through the stretch to capture a thrilling edition of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity.

The track’s handle and attendance numbers were again the tops of any meet in California and – in a run that now stretches back more than a generation – among the top figures of any meeting in America.

Average daily handle moved ahead of last year by 5.1%. Attendance, which started slowly and was down double digits at one point, moved up steadily to the point where average daily attendance was just 1.5% below last summer. Field size rose yet again during the five-days-a-week stand. And safe racing prevailed throughout the summer, a key element in all the positives stated above.

“In many ways,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s president Joe Harper, “you might call this one of the very best meets we’ve ever had here.”

Kudos were eligible to be passed around on many fronts, but none more so than to the track’s racing department and its maintenance crews. Executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins and racing secretary David Jerkens presented winning card after winning card throughout the summer. They also worked in concert with the track maintenance crew headed by veteran turf and landscape superintendent, Leif Dickinson, and the track’s new director of track maintenance, Dennis Moore, in ensuring one of the safest racing seasons in track history.

“If you remember the circumstances coming into this meet,” noted Robbins, “there was real concern about how we’d be able to perform. Filling a five-day race week with high-end product is a challenge on any circuit these days. But our horsemen rallied, our racing proved to be top quality and safe and we were able to put on a first-rate show for fans around the country.”

Metaboss at Del Mar
copyright Gary Tasich

Robbins added that the track’s field size numbers – the ones that most people tie directly to the rise or fall in handle – jumped up this summer from 8.3 per race in 2016 to 8.6, solidly above the national average. Additionally, the track’s “Ship & Win” program drew 110 new runners to the track over the 36 days, almost exactly comparable to the 120 it drew for 39 days last year. “S & W,” which has been in effect at Del Mar since 2011, has now drawn more than 900 horses from out of state. These new runners boost field size, add spice to the handicapping stew and often stick around permanently to become part of the Southern California racing scene.

The track’s wagering pools were robust once again, notably its weekend exotic bets where Saturday and Sunday Pick Four pools routinely topped $1-million. It’s Pick Six pools, enhanced this summer by the addition of the “Jackpot Carryover” element, also showed strong returns as Pick Six pools on non-carryover days increased 34% over 2016.

Total handle for the season projects at $451.5 million for a daily average of $12,542,000, up 5.1% above the 2016 average. Total attendance for the session was 476,628 for an average of 13,240, off 1.5% from the 2016 average.

“We gave up a weekend this year to allow for a safer and stronger start for our horses and horsemen,” stated Del Mar’s executive vice president and chief operating officer Josh Rubinstein. “It proved more than worth it. We sacrificed a few dollars, but we were able to put on one of our best race meets in recent memory. Working with all our partners in this business — the California Horse Racing Board, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association – we were able to produce a sporting and entertainment package that sets the tone for everyone in our business.”

Del Mar now looks ahead to its first presentation of the Breeders’ Cup championship races at the seaside track on Friday and Saturday, November 3 and 4. Its fourth fall meet will get underway on Wednesday, November 1 and continue through to Sunday, November 26.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Successful 2017 Saratoga Meeting

Saratoga starting gatePress Release

For the second time in the past three years, The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) set a record for all-sources wagering on racing at Saratoga, concluding the 2017 Saratoga meet with a handle of $676,709,490. The 2017 handle eclipsed the previous high set in 2015 by 4.4 percent and shattered the prior record set in 2012 by more than 15 percent.

The 4.4 percent increase in wagering from all sources included $157,014,965 in on-track handle, a 3.4 percent increase over last season, which incorporates live pari-mutuel wagering at Saratoga Race Course, at NYRA’s downstate tracks and New York State residents who wager through NYRA Bets.

Additionally, the $47,870,987 in handle generated on Travers Day marked the second highest handle in history for Saratoga’s premier day of racing, an increase of five percent over 2016.

“The 2017 Saratoga meet has truly been outstanding, and for that I would like to extend my gratitude to the fans, owners, trainers and jockeys who continue to make Saratoga so special,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “I also want to recognize the men and women of The New York Racing Association who helped make this meet so successful. The record wagering is a reflection of the work of our racing office, the expansion of our national ADW platform NYRA Bets, and the increased reach of our groundbreaking television program Saratoga Live, which is now available in 75 million homes nationwide. And finally, we were certainly blessed with fantastic weather.”

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The 40-day meet included 69 stakes worth $18.775 million in purses.

Michael Dubb made it four straight titles as the meet’s leading owner with 15 wins. Todd Pletcher captured the H. Allen Jerkens training title, tying the Spa record for wins with 40 victories. Jockey Jose Ortiz earned back-to-back Angelo Cordero, Jr. titles as the meet’s top rider with 58 wins.

The greatest thoroughbreds in training assembled at Saratoga Race Course on Travers Day, including for the first time in 35 years the three winners from the Triple Crown series and the Jim Dandy, plus champion filly Songbird and the resilient Lady Eli.

The festive and memorable afternoon was highlighted by West Coast’s wire to wire victory in the 148th edition of the Travers Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets, for owners Gary and Mary West, and for the trainer-jockey combo of Bob Baffert and Mike Smith who captured Saratoga’s signature race for the second consecutive year.

Gun Runner, the top ranked horse in the nation, began his Saratoga campaign with an impressive five-length win in the 90th anniversary of the Whitney Stakes, and then returned to action on the meet’s closing weekend to dominate the Woodward Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets, with a more than 10-length victory.

Launched in conjunction with NYRA Bets last summer was NYRA’s critically-acclaimed flagship racing broadcast Saratoga Live. As a result of additional distribution agreements with FOX Regional Sports Networks in southern California and Ohio, Saratoga Live expanded its reach this summer into more than 75 million households, including new audiences in Los Angeles, San Diego, Ohio and Kentucky.

During the 2017 meet, NYRA and FOX Sports announced a three-year extension of the groundbreaking television programing deal, which will make live daily coverage of racing from Saratoga available on FS2 to a national audience through 2020.

This year’s broadcast also highlighted local area attractions, including the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the shops and restaurants along Broadway to a national audience in an effort to promote tourism in conjunction with racing, and create a national showcase for Saratoga Springs.

In addition to coverage on major national and regional sports networks, horseplayers were able to watch Saratoga Live and wager with NYRA Bets through NYRA’s two mobile applications: NYRA Now and NYRA XP, the latter of which made its highly successful debut during the 2017 season.

More than 16,000 guests in 114 cities and across 25 countries downloaded NYRA XP during the Saratoga meet. The app integrates seamlessly with both NYRA Now and NYRA Bets – enabling fans to watch live racing in high definition; wager through NYRA Bets; and purchase tickets, parking, food and merchandise at the click of a button. Fans for the first time were also able to utilize the app to reserve a ride with Uber, the official ridesharing partner of Saratoga Race Course.

NYRA’s mobile applications were strengthened by significant investments in technology to enhance the guest experience at Saratoga. By increasing the on-track Wi-Fi capacity by 250 percent, fans enjoyed heightened connectivity throughout the meet. On Travers Day alone, more than 44,000 mobile devices were connected to the track’s wireless network. At any one time, approximately 12,000 mobile devices – or one out of every four – were concurrently connected to the Wi-Fi network, a noted high ratio for sports venues.

NYRA’s investment in capital improvements at Saratoga dating back to 2013 eclipsed $30 million this summer, in efforts continuously designed to enhance the guest experience and provide amenities that are consistent with those available at “first class” sports franchises.

At the start of the 2017 meet, NYRA introduced the newly-renovated Saratoga Family Zone, a smoke- and alcohol-free interactive play area with an oval multi-lane running track, a miniature replica starting gate, a “selfie” photo station, spring horses and educational panels designed to teach children about the life of a race horse. The improvements to the playground are viewed as critical to the long-term sustainability of Saratoga Race Course by offering families an enticing option for their children when visiting Saratoga, thereby laying the groundwork for future generations of racing fans.

NYRA also unveiled several upgrades to the historic paddock mutuel building, including a new slate roof and rafters. The improvements are intended to ensure the continued preservation of the historically-significant building, which was constructed in 1902 and originally used as a saddling shed during inclement weather.

In addition to enhancements throughout the venue, fans were treated to a series of special events and activities throughout the meet. An annual highlight of the Saratoga racing season returned on the eve of the Travers when three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez was welcomed to the Saratoga Walk of Fame at the fifth annual Red Jacket Ceremony, during which Dominguez received an emblematic Saratoga red jacket and unveiled his commemorative plaque. The plaque is displayed at the Walk of Fame which honors industry leaders who have made an indelible mark on thoroughbred racing.

The Red Jacket Ceremony was among the many special events during the season, the vast majority of which were staged at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. The Pavilion played host to a weekly series of events for families every Monday; and hosted New York wineries every Thursday, New York craft breweries every Friday and New York foods and crafts each weekend, in partnership with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Taste NY program. Wednesdays at Saratoga were reserved for popular mainstays celebrating Irish- and Italian-American culture as well as the annual Military Appreciation Day, which honored dozens of service members from World War II through the present era.

NYRA welcomed more than 40 local and regional non-profit organizations, schools and PTAs to Saratoga Race Course. The majority of the non-profits enjoyed an exclusive day at the Community Outreach Booth to help further their marketing, outreach and fundraising efforts, while local schools and PTAs took part in the Berkshire Bank Family Mondays series to raise funds and reconnect with fellow students and parents.

NYRA also continued its community partnership with the Saratoga Downtown Business Association through the Saratoga Season Perks program. The program includes discounts for Saratoga season pass and season ticket holders at dozens of retail, restaurant and professional services locations in downtown Saratoga Springs, as well as with local entertainment and sporting venues. A full list of the year-round program participants is available at www.SaratogaSeasonPerks.com. The discount offer is valid through March 1, 2018.

NYRA also formed several partnerships with the City of Saratoga Springs, the Capital District Transportation Authority, and local hotels, restaurants and bars to help familiarize tourists and the community with the growth and expansion of the NYRA Bets brand.

Total paid attendance for the 2017 Saratoga meet was 1,117,838.

Figures for all-sources handle (exclusive of international settlements) at Saratoga dating back to 2010, the start of the 40-day meet, are as follows:

All-Sources Handle

2010 $551,660,724

2011* $526,251,819

2012 $588,351,964

2013 $586,617,240

2014 $571,163,485

2015 $648,272,805

2016 $647,322,503

2017 $676,709,490

*39 race days, due to weather cancellation

Live racing returns Friday, September 8 to Belmont Park. The Fall Championship Meet features 42 stakes worth more than $10.1 million, including six Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers held over two weekends in late September and early October. Family fun activities, live music after racing and other amenities will also be featured at the meet that runs through Sunday, October 29.

For more information, visit NYRA.com.