Colonial Downs credits a shortened race week and revised Saturday post time for increases in average daily attendance and wagering during the 32-day meet that ended July 31.
The New Kent, Va., track reported average daily attendance improved 21% from 1,499 to 1,894 and on-track betting (on Colonial’s live races and imported simulcasts) averaged $157,011, up significantly over the $131,908 average during the 40-day meet in 2010. Total average daily handle also improved, from $860,765 in 2010 to $874,625 this year.
Changes at Colonial this year included racing four weeks per week rather than five, and weekday racing on Wednesday and Thursday rather than the previous Monday and Tuesday schedule that had been used the previous 10 years. Also, post time for the Saturday race card was changed to 5 p.m. (ET) rather than 1 p.m.
With the cutback in race days, purses paid out during the meet fell 11% from $6,350,400 a year ago to $5,651,020 in 2011 and a total $707,810 in Virginia bonus money was distributed, compared with $406,911 in 2010. The track reported 8.73 average starters per race, up from 7.73 per race last year. With 75% of the track’s races taking place on the Secretariat Turf Course, there were 9.27 average starters per race in grass races, compared with 7.82 a year ago.
The track’s 14th harness meet begins Sept. 17 and runs through Nov. 5.