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.

Is Horse Racing Dead … in Texas? Lone Star Park Reports 10.5% Rise in All-Source Handle

The Grand Prairie, Texas, track ended its 50-day Thoroughbred meet July 30. Average daily on-track handle increased 4.9%.

Source: Lone Star Park Reports 10.5% Rise in All-Source Handle

FOX Sports Horse Racing TV Coverage Expanded

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced this week a three-year extension of the groundbreaking television programming deal with FOX Sports to broadcast NYRA’s flagship TV program Saratoga Live on FS2. With this announcement, live daily coverage of racing from Saratoga Race Course will be available to a national television audience through 2020.

“There’s no place like Saratoga and FOX Sports is delighted to be headed back to the Spa for three more summers,” said Michael Mulvihill, FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Research, League Operations and Strategy. “We are very excited to extend and expand our partnership with NYRA, which provides high-quality live programming for FS2, and gives our fans access to insightful and entertaining daily coverage of the best race meet in North America.”

Saratoga canopy walk through“Partnering with FOX Sports has enabled NYRA to present the best race meet to horse racing and sports fans on a live and consistent basis,” said Tony Allevato, NYRA Bets President and Executive Producer of NYRA TV. “This extension ensures that people across the country will continue to be able to watch world-class thoroughbred racing on FS2.”

NYRA launched the critically-acclaimed Saratoga Live during the 2016 summer meet at Saratoga, which included 80 hours of live coverage. This year, FOX Sports expanded the schedule to include Saturdays from Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack, bringing the total amount of live coverage on FS2 to more than 100 hours.

In 2017, NYRA added new markets in California and Ohio via agreements with several Regional Sports Networks including FOX Sports Prime Ticket, FOX Sports San Diego, and FOX Sports Ohio.

Including all regional networks, Saratoga Live presented by Claiborne Farm and stallion Runhappy, now reaches more than 75 million homes. Saratoga Live airs at 4 p.m. on most live racing days.

This Saturday, Travers Day at Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Live will air on FS2 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will include the 68thrunning of the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, featuring champion filly Songbird who has amassed a stellar record of 13 wins and one second-place finish in 14 starts.

New Jersey is the Only State where you can Wager on a Race horse in the middle of a race

horses racingExchange Wagering in New Jersey

While the average age of a horse racing bettor in the state is 61, the typical exchange bettor is 20 years younger.

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Keith Coppola bet on the 1 and 5 horses to win in a recent race that took place at Monmouth Park in Oceanport. The 7 horse wound up the winner — but it wasn’t a complete loss for Coppola. He wound up getting most of his $250 in original wagers back thanks to… [Read more…]

Is Horse Racing Dead? KY Derby Telecast Viewership Largest Since 1989

NBC Sports Network horse racing tvNBC Sports’ coverage of the 143rd Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) posted numerous viewership milestones according to fast national data provided by The Nielsen Company and digital data from Adobe Analytics.

Source: Derby Telecast Viewership Largest Since 1989

A New Type of Horse Ownership

Source: Meadowlands

There’s only one thing every racehorse owner has in common: they started as a fan. As thousands assemble for the 92nd Hambletonian, the Meadowlands is eager to show interested fans that the path to ownership isn’t restricted to the wealthy.

“One of the great barriers to ownership is the perception that it’s for the rich,” said Jason Settlemoir, General Manager & CEO of The Meadowlands.  “Anthony MacDonald has been gaining some real steam in with an innovative ownership concept, so we thought we’d allow him to share his experience as part of Hambletonian weekend.”

MacDonald will be on hand Saturday morning to discuss his fractional ownership website, TheStable.ca, with prospective owners and horsemen interested in duplicating his approach. In less than one year, MacDonald’s fledgling operation has attracted 279 clients from across the globe, many testing ownership waters for the first time. The seminar will take place in The Gallery on the second floor of the Meadowlands Grandstand 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. The seminar is free to attend.

“In all honesty, the response to our platform has been overwhelming,” said MacDonald. “My wife and I started TheStable.ca to sell percentages of horses.  What we quickly discovered is that we’re selling an experience and when packaged right, there’s no end of consumers.  We’re equal parts social network, investment, family farm and sport of kings.”

TheStable.ca markets horses of all ages, but mostly yearlings, to clients in increments as low as 1%. Owners receive weekly video updates on their horses and stay connected through social networks and training events at The Stable’s base of operations in Campbellville, Ontario.

“The lifeblood of the industry is owners. No owners, no horses. No horses, no anything,” said MacDonald. “We make ownership fun, accessible and stress-free. We didn’t start TheStable.ca to be a revolutionary change agent, but we’re seeing its potential – and not just for our operation. For trainers that want to understand our recipe, we’re happy to share.”

The Meadowlands will host an interactive conversation with MacDonald at the gallery on the second floor of the new Meadowlands. Former Trot Magazine editor and racetrack executive, Chris Roberts, will moderate the discussion and take questions from the audience. The seminar is open to both prospective owners and horsemen.

“You can’t argue with Anthony’s early results,” added Settlemoir.  “Anyone that can create hundreds of new owners inside of a year is doing something innovative.  And, the Meadowlands supports any initiative that grows our fan base or generates new interest from the general public.”

Premium Giveaway Days for Saratoga Racecourse 2017

Press Release

The New York Racing Association, Inc. will continue its tradition of premium giveaways with four giveaway days scheduled for the summer 2017 meet at Saratoga Race Course.All giveaways are free with paid admission, while supplies last.The 2017 Saratoga Race Course premium giveaway schedule is as follows:

SARATOGA BASEBALL CAP: Sunday, July 23

The first giveaway of the 2017 season will pay tribute to the theme of opening weekend – Hats! Racing fans gather to receive a red and white Saratoga baseball cap, presented by Saratoga Casino Hotel. In addition to the Saratoga hat giveaway, the day’s festivities will include the 26th annual Hat Contest, presented by Hat Sationa! By DEI.

SARATOGA SHORT-SLEEVE T-SHIRT: Monday, August 7

Racing fans will take home the second giveaway of the 2017 meet, a gray short-sleeve t-shirt featuring a red Saratoga Race Course logo. The giveaway corresponds with the weekly Berkshire Bank Family Mondays series, which features free children’s activities and entertainment at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion.

SARATOGA COOLER BAG: Monday, August 21

The season’s penultimate premium giveaway – a red and black Saratoga cooler bag – will kick off the countdown to the $1.25 million Travers, which will be run for the 148th time on Saturday, August 26.

SARATOGA CLOCK: Sunday, September 3

Fans will celebrate closing weekend of the 2017 Saratoga meet with the final giveaway of the 2017 season – a Saratoga wall clock, presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino. The clock features an image of thoroughbreds racing down the stretch against the iconic Saratoga grandstand and clubhouse roofline.

Guests will be able to redeem up to three vouchers at Saratoga Race Course’s giveaway redemption areas, including the one they receive with paid admission and the two additional vouchers they are able to purchase at the multiple admissions line beneath the grandstand.

Saratoga canopy walk throughSeason pass and season ticket plan holders will be guaranteed a Saratoga premium giveaway item on the day of the giveaway contingent on the following: Season pass or season ticket plan holders must be in attendance at Saratoga Race Course, enter through the designated season ticket and pass holder lines and redeem the giveaway by 3 p.m. Redemptions will begin when gates open to the general public.

Season passes do not include reserved seating and are valid for one admission, which is valid for one giveaway item.

Saratoga season admission passes are currently available for purchase online at www.NYRA.com/Saratoga and in-person at nearly 160 Stewart’s Shops locations in the following counties: Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Warren.

The summer racing season will begin on Friday, July 21 and continue through Labor Day, Monday, September 4.

For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit www.NYRA.com/Saratoga.