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.

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.