Santa Anita Park, which opened its winter/spring meeting with an on-track crowd of 44,579 on Dec. 26, posted a 21% increase in attendance and an 11% uptick in on-track handle through the first six days of its 79-day meet according to racetrack officials.
“Our opening day crowd was the biggest it’s been since 1994 and our pari-mutuel figures have been up on-track and across the country,” said Santa Anita President George Haines. “We’re obviously very pleased to be off to such a strong start and we want to sincerely thank our fans and horsemen for making this possible.
“We’ve been lucky with the weather and our field size has been good. We’ve been able to average nine horses per race and there’s no question that has provided better gambling opportunities for our players.”
In addition to large on-track gains, Santa Anita’s out-of-state handle also jumped, showing an 18% increase over a year ago. Southern California Off Track Wagering Inc. handle showed a 10% increase at simulcasting facilities as well. It all added up to all-sources Santa Anita handle improvement of 14% through week one.
“By any accounting, these are substantial increases,” said Haines. “Our long range weather forecast is good and we’ve got good momentum. We have a number of promotions slated for the month of January and we’ve got a solid stakes schedule ahead as well. We hope to sustain this momentum and we’ll continue to market and promote very aggressively.”
Santa Anita begins a four-day race week Jan. 5 with first post time at 12:30 p.m. The $100,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds and the $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) for older horses will highlight the Jan. 7 card.