Prairie Meadows' 47-day spring meet saw overall betting drop 28% after switching from racing Monday afternoons, when it had strong simulcast betting, to Thursday evenings.
Preliminary figures show that betting at the Iowa track averaged $512,136 per day, compared to $711,528 in 2004. The on-track average was $77,768, a 2.5% dip from last year's $79,777 average.
However, betting from simulcast outlets across the country plunged 31%, from $631,751 per day to $439,241. The biggest change was the Monday to Thursday switch. Prairie Meadows took in a half-million dollars more per day in simulcasting on Monday afternoons, but the track gave it up in an effort to boost its on-track turnout by racing Thursday nights.
Prairie Meadows is hoping that it will make up for the lost simulcasting income with more casino revenue by drawing more fans to the track on Thursday nights.
When Prairie Meadows eliminated Mondays, it did so over the concerns of horse owners, who are wary that the drop in betting will give fuel to those that would like to scale back horse racing.
"I was concerned, we all were," said Ray Shattuck, president of the Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association. "We knew how good Mondays were. We'd get a $1 million handle on a lot of Mondays. We can't tie management's hands. Let them make these decisions, but remind them at all times that they made the decision to decrease the handle."
Dick Clark won the spring training title for the third straight year, amassing 52 victories, 21 more than runner-up Larry Jones.
Tim Doocy won his second straight riding title, winning 62 races to Alex Birzer's 56. Live racing resumes Friday with the start of the combined Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse meet.