Hopes for a spike in pari-mutuel handle at Keeneland this fall in advance of this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships did not materialize.
Running its typical 17 dates, the Keeneland fall meet that concluded Oct. 24 saw a 10.3% decline in daily on-track handle to $930,234 and a 2.9% decline in all-sources handle to $122,469,056. The declines mark the second straight year on-track and total handle figures have declined at the fall meet. Keeneland registered record all-source handle at its 2013 fall meet, the final fall meet featuring a Polytrack main track.
While the fall meet has ended, Keeneland will offer a "Prelude to the Cup" day of racing Thursday, Oct. 29 followed by the Breeders' Cup World Championships cards Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31. On Sunday through Wednesday, Oct. 25-28, fans are invited to watch Breeders' Cup horses during morning training at Breakfast at the Breeders' Cup.
As for the fall meet, average daily on-track wagering in 2015 was $930,234 against $1,036,814 in 2014. Average daily all-sources handle was $7,003,053.
According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, Keeneland paid out $10,760,736 in purses in 159 fall meet races, a $67,678 average per race and $632,984 daily average. The meet averaged 8.52 starters per race, which is up slightly from last year's 8.44 starters a race, but down 13.5% compared with the 9.85 average field size registered in 2013.
During the 2015 fall meet fans took advantage of unique seating and dining venues such as the Grandstand Loge Boxes and Club Lawn Chalet that were constructed for Breeders' Cup. Despite that, attendance fell 4.3% to 240,709 compared with last fall's 251,574. Average daily attendance was 14,159 versus 14,798 in 2014.
Despite the declines, Keeneland president Bill Thomason said the 2015 fall meet will prove to be memorable.
"The high level of racing, the idyllic fall weather and the anticipation of Breeders' Cup made this a very special fall meet for Keeneland, our horsemen, and the entire Central Kentucky community," Thomason said. "We truly appreciate the support of our great fans and the enthusiasm they show for Keeneland and for horse racing throughout the year."
Keeneland hosted more than 23,000 fans on consecutive Saturdays during the fall meet, Oct. 10 and Oct. 17, and nearly 20,000 on Friday, Oct. 16.
Fans turned out on opening Saturday, Oct. 3, to recognize two-time Horse of the Year and recently retired Wise Dan, winner of a record seven Keeneland stakes races, as he was paraded in the paddock and before the grandstand.
On the track, Ken and Sarah Ramsey won seven races during the meet to collect their 16th leading owner title, the most held by any Keeneland owner. They are tied with William S. Farish as Keeneland's all-time leading owners by number of races won, each having 194 wins. The Ramseys received Eclipse Awards as outstanding owner and breeder in 2013 and 2014, and as outstanding owner in 2004 and 2011.
Maggi Moss and John C. Oxley tied for second in the owner standings with five wins each.
Jockey Corey Lanerie posted 25 wins during the fall meet to earn his first title as leading rider at Keeneland. Among his victories was the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) aboard Brody's Cause . Julien Leparoux finished second in the jockey standings with 19 wins.
The race for leading trainer went down to the final race on closing day and ended in a three-way tie. Finishing with nine wins apiece were trainers Steve Asmussen, Mark Casse, and Kenny McPeek. It is the second Keeneland training title for Casse, the second for Asmussen, and the fifth for McPeek. Casse's win total includes two stakes: the First Lady (gr. IT) with Tepin and the Dixiana Bourbon (gr. IIIT) with Airoforce.