Is Horse Racing Dead? Gulfstream Park Reported Strong 2016

Gulfstream Park paddock Gulfstream Park announced a record $1.774 billion was wagered via Gulfstream Park in 2016, a 9-percent increase over the previous record of $1.625 billion in 2015.

Gulfstream also announced a record $1.508 billion was wagered on its live races in 2016, a 13-percent increase from the previous record of $1.338 billion in 2015.

Gulfstream’s record handle was produced in part by signature racing events like the Florida Derby, Fountain of Youth, Opening Day Claiming Crown, Sire Stakes, Sunshine Millions and Holy Bull. Gulfstream also continued hosting signature events, including the prestigious Eclipse Awards.

“Our record handle in 2016 shows us we’re on the right path in growing our Championship Meet and reinvigorating summer racing in Florida,” said P.J. Campo, General Manager of Gulfstream Park and Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group, Gulfstream’s parent company. “We continue to see the top horses and stables race each winter at Gulfstream, but we’re also witnessing more interest in our summer program now that it has become established and producing quality racing and young stars.

“We believe we will continue to grow in 2017. We have an incredible year ahead of us. We’re looking forward to once again hosting the Eclipse Awards on Jan. 21, watching classic contenders begin to develop in the Holy Bull, Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, and playing host to the richest horse race in the world – the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational – featuring California Chrome and Arrogate on Jan. 28.

“Our success is only possible because of our great equine athletes, jockeys, horsemen supporting our program from throughout the world, and the fans, who continue to offer great suggestions to help us grow our customer service.

Racetrack Management: Take Care of Your Fans

Who is your team?

Excerpt: “While pondering this, I couldn’t help but think of the difficulty horse racing has faced while trying to maintain and expand its fan base. As an industry, horse racing has been aware for some time that in order to survive it must do this, but that is far easier said than done.

The tricky thing with horse racing is there are no teams to cheer for. Loyalty to a runner rarely can last more than a few years, simply because said horse will be retired. People have favorite trainers and jockeys, but the star of the game has always been the horse.

It’s not like an NFL team that a family will follow for generations, through thick and thin. For instance, my family’s team is the Denver Broncos. While John Elway will always be beloved, our loyalty to the Broncos did not change when he retired. I guarantee that some of the fans Zenyatta picked up along the way retired from racing when she did.

Another unique aspect of the game is the gambling. Getting people in the door simply isn’t enough. The success of a race meet is not only judged by attendance but by handle.

For instance, Lone Star Park ended its spring thoroughbred meeting with a 10 percent increase in average daily attendance, which was the largest average daily attendance increase in the track’s history. But, overall handle was down and that had to be addressed. While pondering this, I couldn’t help but think of the difficulty horse racing has faced while trying to maintain and expand its fan base. As an industry, horse racing has been aware for some time that in order to survive it must do this, but that is far easier said than done.”

 

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