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

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.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Saratoga, Timonium Report Big Gains

Saturday’s all-star Travers card at Saratoga saw a near-record figure in terms of all-sources handle, second only to 2015 when Triple Crown winner American Pharoah appeared. This year’s handle rang in at $47,870,984, a five-percent increase over 2016 but less than the $49,668,754 wagered in 2015.

On-track attendance was announced at 47,725, a 1.9 percent decrease from 2016. On-track handle of $10,862,094 was one percent higher than last year.

2017 Travers Day
August 26, 2017
  • All-sources: $47,870,987
  • On-track: $10,862,095
  • Betting interests: 108
2016 Travers Day
August 27, 2016
  • All-sources: $45,596,367
  • On-track: $10,778,993
  • Betting interests: 124

Down at the short race meeting at the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, there were also some great financial results.  Timonium opened with strong results Friday and continued on to a record-setting day Saturday, August 26. Handle (wagering dollars) on opening day of the fair was up 56%.

“We had a great day and handled over $1 million, which I was told is a record for this fair meet,” said Bill Reightler, coordinator of racing operations. “On behalf of our board at the Maryland State Fair, we want to thank the sponsors of the Coalition Stakes–the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, and Fasig-Tipton, Inc. Of course, a huge thank you goes to the connections all the stakes entrants, and all the trainers and owners that are participating at this race meeting, giving us full fields in all our races. It’s a fun place to race.”

 

Is Horse Racing Dead? Wagering Increased at Laurel Park Winter Meet

Usain Bolt lessonThe Maryland Jockey Club reported substantial across-the-board wagering increases during the 56-day winter meet at Laurel Park.

Source: Wagering Increased at Laurel Park Winter Meet

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

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.”

Is Horse Racing Dead? Summit of Speed Handle Up 50% Over 2 Years Ago

Post Parade Gulfstream Park maiden race

Copyright Agameofskill.com

Press Release

Gulfstream Park set a record on Summit of Speed Day with total handle Saturday of $12,660,617.

Saturday’s handle eclipsed the previous year’s handle of $9,702 million by 30 percent and the 2015 handle of $8,071 by 50 percent.

The 14-race card featured victories by Curlin’s Approval in the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Princess Rooney (G2) and Imperial Hint in the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Smile Sprint (G3). Jockey Luis Saez flew in from New York to win three races, including the Princess Rooney and Azalea aboard Who’s the Lady, while Javier Castellano won aboard Imperial Hint. Jockey Edgard Zayas won three races, including two stakes.

In its last year at Calder in 2013, total handle on the Summit of Speed program was $4.678 million. After Calder did not run the Summit in 2014, Gulfstream focused on rejuvenating summer racing and the Summit of Speed.

“We want to thank the fans throughout the country for making Saturday’s Summit of Speed a success,” said P.J. Campo, Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group and General Manager of Gulfstream Park. “Horsemen continue to support our summer program with great racing. We witnessed some incredible performances today by our equine and human athletes.

“We will continue to build summer racing in Florida and we’re excited about the rest of our holiday weekend culminating with our free Grand Illumination fireworks show.”

Is Horse Racing Dead? Golden Gate Field Reports Gains

Golden Gate Fields concluded its 99-day winter/spring meet on Sunday, June 18 with gains in both attendance and on-track handle. The Bay Area track was able to achieve these gains despite experiencing one of the wettest seasons to affect Northern California in years, with over 40 inches of rain recorded during the first part of the season. This is the first winter/spring meet since 2011 where attendance was up by 5.65% with on-track handle also increasing by 3.44%. The most notable change in attendance came from the popular Dollar Day Sundays which saw a 13% increase year-over-year.

“We are very happy with our loyal fans for braving the weather and supporting our live racing product. I look forward to seeing them again during our summer meet,” said Joe Morris, senior vice president of West Coast operations for the Stronach Group.

The leading trainer of the meet was John Martin with 62 wins, leading him to back-to-back winning trainer titles (Martin was the leading trainer of the 2016 fall meet at Golden Gate Fields). Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer came in second. The leading jockey for the winter/spring meet was Abel Cedillo with 89 wins.

“It was a long meet. I’ve just been working hard and running a lot of horses. I tried really hard to win it this time. I need a little bit of a rest now,” said trainer John Martin. 

“I learned a lot down at Santa Anita from great jockeys like Mike Smith and Kent Desormeaux. I’m just blessed I’m here. I’m getting great horses now and my agent, Roger Olguin, couldn’t be better,” said jockey Abel Cedillo.

Golden Gate Fields is set to open its doors for another exciting summer meet on Thursday, August 24. The brief summer race season will run through Sunday, September 17, with special holiday racing on Labor Day Monday, September 4. First post every race day is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. The summer meet will feature a Turf Festival during the last two weeks: September 8 to September 17, a time in which Golden Gate Fields will be the only track in California offering turf racing. The track will offer vanning and stabling incentives for horsemen looking to ship from Southern California. The Turf Festival will be highlighted by the $50,000 Rolling Green Stakes, which will be contested on the lakeside turf course at a distance of a mile and one-sixteenth.

Old Sports Spectrum / Louisville Downs to Become State-of-the-Art Facility

Churchill Downs Incorporated to Invest $60M into Louisville Location

“Stronger horse racing means a stronger Kentucky.”

Press Release

Churchill Downs Incorporated has announced it is investing approximately $60 million to construct a state-of-the-art historical racing machine (“HRM”) facility in Louisville. The 85,000-square-foot facility will be built at 4520 Poplar Level Road—Churchill Downs’ former Trackside (also known as the former Sports Spectrum) site, and conveniently located less than half a mile from the Poplar Level Road exit off the Henry Watterson Expressway (I-264). CDI’s request to offer exotic wagering on historical racing was conditionally approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission this afternoon.

“With a state-of-the-art facility and new, innovative historical racing machines, we will deliver an exciting and compelling product for our customers in Louisville. This is a great opportunity for us to revitalize another area of our city while strengthening the Commonwealth’s equine industry through larger purses and greater incentives for Kentucky breeders and owners,” Churchill Downs Race Track president Kevin Flannery said. “Stronger horse racing means a stronger Kentucky.”

historical racing facility

source: CDI

The company says the facility will create 450 new jobs for the local economy, including 250 construction jobs. An estimated 200 new full- and part-time jobs will be created to operate and manage the facility. Churchill Downs will hire both hourly and salaried employees in areas including operations, marketing, finance, food and beverage, maintenance, information technology, human resources, security and administration. Job fairs will be held at Trackside for the neighborhoods surrounding the facility and the Churchill Downs Race Track.

This announcement comes on the heels of CDI’s decision to relocate its TwinSpires.com business to Louisville from Silicon Valley, California, creating more than 70 high-tech, high-paying jobs for the city.

The planned facility will house two quick-service, walk-up food venues, as well as a bar with seating for 50 and large format televisions for guests to take in all the best sporting action year-round. The gaming area will open with 600 cutting-edge historical racing machines and a player’s club reward center offering special perks and benefits, including an exclusive parking area for loyal guests.

Construction is slated to begin later this year, and CDI hopes to open the facility by summer of 2018.