Keeneland Attendance Jumps, Handle Dips

Keeneland Attendance Jumps, Handle Dips
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

(from Keeneland release)

Keeneland reported an average on-track attendance increase of 6.2%, but a 5% drop in total handle from all sources based on preliminary figures following the conclusion of the 16-day meet April 25.

The track said it had recorded the second-highest overall attendance and wagering figures in spring meet history.

On-track attendance for the stand, which began April 4, totaled 243,606, an increase over last spring’s total of 215,030, and just behind the record total of 244,145 set during the 2006 spring meet. Average daily attendance of 15,225 rose 6.2% percent from 14,335 in 2007.

Keeneland raced one additional day this spring compared to last year.

Though final handle figures are not yet confirmed, total all-sources wagering (on-track and off-track wagering and whole-card simulcasting conducted at Keeneland) will exceed $150.45 million, the second-highest spring meet handle. The total was 5% off last spring’s record of $158,368,308. Keeneland averaged $9.4 million per day in all-source handle at the just-concluded meet, down from $10.5 million per day last season.

“This spring, the competitive level of racing at Keeneland has been unparalleled,” said Nick Nicholson, Keeneland's president and CEO. “Polytrack has attracted more trainers and more horses from across the country and Canada, horses that normally don’t race against each other. I think it’s made for an exciting race meet.”

Todd Pletcher earned his second leading trainer title with 14 wins. On April 12, he saddled the top two finishers in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I), Monba and Cowboy Cal, and a week later won the Coolmore Lexington (gr. II) with Behindatthebar. Behindatthebar was one of four winners Pletcher saddled April 19, equaling a 13-year-old Keeneland training record.

Pletcher increased his career wins at Keeneland to 107. With the Toyota Blue Grass and Coolmore Lexington victories, he now has won 23 stakes at Keeneland and is third among the track’s all-time leading trainers by stakes wins.

“Winning the Blue Grass and the Lexington in itself would make it a successful meet,” said Pletcher, whose first meet title came in 2005, when he saddled a spring meet record 16 wins. “We’ve had some 2-year-olds going pretty well, which is exciting. Then we won four races on Saturday, which was a lot of fun. So we’re pleased with the overall results.”

Kent Desormeaux won his first Keeneland riding title with 22 total wins, boosted by two days (April 12 and 17) on which he won four races.

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