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

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.”

GOT REBATES?  Click here to learn more

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

Is Horse Racing Dead? 8th Consecutive Laurel Park Meet Soars

Press Release

For the third consecutive year and eighth consecutive meet, Laurel Park registered an increase in average daily handle during its recently-completed summer meet.

Laurel’s average handle during its 33-day summer meet was $2.725 million, up 25.6 percent over last summer’s average of $2.170 million.

Total handle on Laurel’s summer meet was $112 million, up from $63.2 million last year when there were 24 live race days.

“We’re pleased that our product continues to trend upward with bettors, and horsemen throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast continue to support our program,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We will continue to build our product with quality racing, full fields and improvements throughout our facility, and we truly believe our upcoming fall meet will be the best in recent memory.

The fall meet will offer 44 stakes worth $4.42 million in purses, and a number of Super Saturdays highlighted by the De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) Sept. 16, the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G2) and Commonwealth Derby (G3) Sept. 30, and the James F. Lewis, City of Laurel and Safely Kept Nov. 11, the day when the career and life of Maryland champion Ben’s Cat will be honored.

On Saturday, Oct. 21, Laurel Park will play host to the 32nd Jim McKay Maryland Million, “one of the greatest days of the year in Maryland,” Sinatra added.

Hollywood’s Seminole Hard Rock Rake in Over Half a Billion Dollars

racino slots machineSouth Florida racetrack casino owners merely shake their head when they asked how they can “compete” with the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, and my recent calculations explain why. It’s because the Seminole Hard Rock’s haul for the past fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, totaled more than $579 million. That’s more than… [Read more…]

Seminole Hard Rock Collects $579 Million, Versus $578 Million For Eight South Florida Racetrack Casinos

Historic Racing game slot machinesSouth Florida racetrack casino owners merely shake their head when they asked how they can compete with the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. My recent calculations illustrate why.

Seminole Hard Rock Resort & Casino The Seminole Hard Rock’s haul for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, totaled more than $579 million. That’s… [Read more…]

Is Horse Racing Dead? Saratoga Opening Day Sees Handle Increase – 2017

Horse Racing Fans at the Saratoga Clubhouse Rail

Fans at the Saratoga Clubhouse Rail

Opening day at Saratoga Race Course saw all-sources handle of $20,332,051, a 14.47% increase over last year’s opening day total.

Source: Saratoga Opening Day Sees Handle Increase

Annual Slot Revenues at Florida Racetracks Up 2 Percent vs 2016

racino slots machineSlot revenues at South Florida racetrack casinos rose by more than 2 percent this fiscal year compared to last, according to figures released this month by the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Click Here For Other Stories And Videos On South Florida Reporter The eight dog tracks, horse tracks and jai-alai frontons with slots collected $549… [Read more…]

Is Horse Racing Dead? Ellis Park Opening Day 2017 Handle Rises Sharply

Press Release

Total betting on Saturday’s opening card at Ellis Park was $1,789,882 — up 62 percent over the $1,106,508 wagered on last year’s first day of racing. That breaks down to $232,276  bet on Ellis at Ellis (up 14 percent over 2016) and $1,557,715 bet off track on Ellis’ nine-race card (up 72 percent percent over last year’s $903,119). Another $300,993 was bet at Ellis on other racetracks, a number that does not show up in the all-sources total but which was up 10 percent, the track said.

“It was just a delightful and great day,” said track president Ron Geary. “We worked hard the whole year to get to this position. We launched a bunch of new things, the new video and tote board and a lot of interior improvements. We’re very excited. Obviously we got our purse money up, and that helps a lot. But I think our team executed quite well. We thought we’d have a good meet; this is certainly a good indicator. But we’ll see what happens in the next 30 race dates, see if it rains or anything like that.”