The 96-day, 2004 Arlington Park race meet concluded Sunday with a 6% increase in average daily attendance and a 2.6% rise in overall wagering compared to the corresponding daily averages for the 104-day meet in 2003.
This year, total attendance was 726,923, compared with 743,067 in 2003. Average daily attendance for the rose to 7,572 compared to 7,145 last year, an increase of 427 per day.
"Everyone at Arlington Park is grateful for the support of our fans, horsemen and employees during this successful 2004 race meet," said Arlington Park president Cliff Goodrich. "Our increase in daily attendance included many new fans that we have exposed to the sport for the first time at Arlington Park this year, particularly due to the ever-growing popularity of our weekend promotions and an increase in group sales. Since one of our paramount objectives is building a new fan base for the future, we feel that our 2004 meet was successful in helping to grow the great sport of Thoroughbred racing."
Total handle from all sources for the 96-day meet was $402,308,299 for a daily average of $4,190,711 surpassing the 2003 daily average for 104 days of $4,084,324 by $106,387 per day. Last year, a total of $424,796,662 was wagered on the 104-day meet.
On-track, average daily wagering increased by 3.6% from $559,454 in 2003 to $579,713 per day in 2004, a daily increase of $20,259. This year, a total of $55,652,458 was wagered at Arlington Park during the 96-day meet versus $58,183,186 in 104 days during 2003.
Total average daily purses paid during the 2004 meet amounted to $274,561, compared to daily average purses of $280,572 in 2003. The average number of starters per race of 8.25 represented a 1.4% increase from the 2003 meet average of 8.14 starters per race.
On the track, Jockey Rene Douglas became the first jockey in Arlington Park history to win four consecutive Arlington riding crowns with 125 trips to the winner's circle.Owner Frank C. Calabrese earned his fifth consecutive title as the meet's leading owner with 26 wins, 14 better than runners up Steve Asmussen and Terry Bruner, who had 12 apiece.
The trainers' race went down to the wire, with Frank Kirby leading Asmussen by one win going into the final day. When the dust settled, each conditioner had won a race on the meet's final day and Kirby took the title 32-31. It was Kirby's second Arlington trainer's title, 30 years after he won 49 races in 1974 to claim his first.