Kentucky Downs ended its most successful live race meet Sept. 19 in Franklin, establishing new benchmarks for on-track and all sources handle while hosting some of the highest quality racing the track has seen.
Total handle from all sources for Kentucky Downs 2012 live race meet was $7,570,730, a 101.6% increase over total handle for the 2011 meet of $3,755,909. And while the 2012 handle figure benefitted from a fifth day of racing this year as compared to a four-day meet in 2011, Kentucky Downs' daily average handle of $1,514,146 represented a 61.3% increase over daily average handle last year.
On-track wagering on live races during the meet increased by 40.5% from 2011 to 2012 ($313, 561 in 2011, $550,757 in 2012). Through Sept. 18, Kentucky Downs' total simulcast import handle for the first 18 days of September had increased by 13% over the same period in September 2011.
"At the end of last year's live race meet, we made a commitment to the Kentucky horse racing industry to bring great turf racing back to Kentucky Downs in 2012," said Corey Johnsen, Kentucky Downs president. "Instant Racing enabled us to increase purses dramatically, and the fans, with their enthusiasm and their wagers, proved they're eager to support quality racing."
While Kentucky Downs lost one day of racing due to inclement weather on Sept. 17, its 2012 live race meet offered a total purse structure of nearly $2.5 million. Johnsen credited the lucrative purses as a key to attracting outstanding horses to the meet, who, in turn, attracted fans and stimulated interest. The track also lowered its takeout, or cost of betting, on all wagers. All of those factors, Johnsen said, contributed to the success of the meet.
"This season has been very encouraging," Johnsen said. "I've heard from horsemen and longtime fans that they've never seen so much activity here or such good racing. I think that all bodes well for Kentucky Downs moving forward into the future."
On the track, Brian Hernandez Jr. tallied two wins on Kentucky Downs' closing day card to capture the leading rider title with seven wins. Corey Lanerie finished the meet with six trips to the winners circle while Kent Desormeaux had four winners and was in the money with six of his seven mounts in the meet.
Rusty Arnold was the leading trainer at the meet with three wins, edging out Wesley Ward, Chuck Peery, and Jimmy Corrigan, with two apiece.