Already facing stiff competition for the wagering dollar from simulcasting in Ohio and three nearby riverboat casinos, Turfway Park sustained another blow when fallout from the events of Sept. 11 impacted the track's fall meet.
The northern Kentucky track reported average daily attendance fell 17.8% and average on-track handle declined 19.3% when the 21-day meet this year was compared with the 23-day stand. Turfway reported total attendance of 43,477 this year, compared with 52,916 in 2000, for a daily average of 2,070. With a total of $7,834,519 wagered on-track, the daily average was $373,072.
There were similar declines in intrastate and interstate simulcasting on Turfway's races. The track reported average daily in-state simulcast handle of $1,114,364, down 18.5%, and the out-of-state average of $1,895,031 represented a 15.6% decline. Average daily purse distribution fell 21.1% to $200,398.
"No one could have predicted the horrible events of September 11 and the negative impact they would have on the country's economy," said Turfway Park president Robert N. Elliston "It was clear early on that this was not going to be a good meet, for obvious reasons."
Not only was Turfway impacted, but also all Kentucky tracks sustained business downturns following the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., Elliston said.
"The numbers were discouraging for all of Kentucky racing," he said. "The decline in business was felt across the state, not just at Turfway, which actually saw less of a decline than the other major facilities. On a positive note, we still offered quality racing and the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions should once again have an impact on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, with horses like Guided Tour and Spain coming from our races."