Racetracks reported an upswing in business because of the record-setting Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) program held May 5 at Churchill Downs.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, which moved up its first post time to 5:45 p.m. EDT to run two races before the Kentucky Derby, reported increases in ontrack and offtrack pari-mutuel handle on its live racing program. Ontrack handle was up 7% from the comparable day in 2011, while export wagering on the product jumped to $1,037,605 from $667299 a year ago.
Ontrack betting on the Derby itself was $501,501, up 21% from $414,133 last year, officials at the Pennsylvania track said. Total Derby wagering on the Derby through the Penn National system—ontrack, at off-track wagering facilities, and through its advance deposit wagering system—was $1.6 million, up 17% from $1.37 million in 2011.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in running some live races as guests wait for the Derby, and the fans showed they liked the idea,” Penn National vice president of racing Mark Loewe said. “The warm weather brought out a lot of first-time race-goers, and our new outdoor catering facilities were also busy throughout the afternoon and evening.”
Lone Star Park in Texas hosted a crowd of 17,352 racing May 5, the highest attendance for Derby day since 2008, track officials said. Lone Star races live in the afternoon on Saturdays.
Derby handle at Lone Star was $1,131,634, up from $1,054,019 last year. Wagering on the full 13-race program at Churchill Downs was $1,519,854, up from $1,439,606 in 2011, officials said.