Business Picks Up at Inaugural Presque Isle Meet

Business Picks Up at Inaugural Presque Isle Meet
Photo: Coady Photography

An increase in field size and familiarity with the product has led to some growth in business at Presque Isle Downs, which began its inaugural meet Sept. 1.

Through the first 17 days of the 25-day meet at the track near Erie, Pa., average daily handle was $590,950, up considerably from the first-week average. Average daily on-track handle on live racing was $57,129, while attendance averaged 3,587, according to a Sept. 20 release.

Presque Isle has a slot-machine casino connected to the racetrack, so attendance figures are estimated.

The track's average daily total handle is roughly one-third that of Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort, the West Virginia track that like Presque Isle is owned by MTR Gaming Group. The numbers reflect how bettors like familiar products; though the Presque Isle product overall is more attractive from a quality standpoint, the Mountaineer signal has become a nighttime staple in the simucast market over the past seven years.

Presque Isle plans to distribute about $13 million--roughly $500,000 per program--during the meet. Thus far, daily purses have averaged $426,659.

Field size picked up by the third week of the meet, and through the first 17 days averaged 8.6 horses per race. Favorites have won 25.7% of the races, below the national average, the track reported.

Meet handle records were established Sept. 15 when the $400,000 Presque Isle Masters Stakes and two other stakes were offered. On-track handle that night was $122,373, and total handle for eight races was $777,255. Attendance that day was reported at more than 13,000.

Presque Isle offers eight-race cards six nights per week. That schedule could change in 2008 when a regular-length 100-night meet is held. Purses are projected to average about $300,000 a day next year.

The current meet concludes Sept. 29. The track is open year-round for simulcasting.

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