Del Mar raced to a close of its 76th summer season on Labor Day, completing a 40-day stand that it reports saw total handle rise by nearly 10%—thanks to four additional race days—and field size hold firm despite the additional racing.
The seaside oval stretched its summer season out to eight weeks for the first time, July 16-Sept. 7, and added four racing days to its agenda compared with the 2014 schedule. In the process, the track reports increased its cumulative handle from $442,626,307 in 2014 to $486,060,724, a jump of 9.8%.
Daily average handle at Del Mar finished at $12,151,518 for the 40 days, down 1.2% from last year's average of $12,295,175 for the 36-day meet.
California off-track wagering handle increased 17.2%. Out-of-state wagering was up 9.7%. However, total on-track handle decreased 5.1%. Average daily on-track handle was down 14.6%, but average daily off-track betting in the state was up 5.5%. Average daily out-of-state handle decreased by 1.3%. Average daily ADW handle again showed positive results, up 9.8%.
Field size stayed at a California-high of 8.8 horses per race for the third year in a row, even in light of the track running 354 races in 2015 as opposed to 326 the summer before.
On-track attendance for 2015 was off by 12%, averaging 14,558 for the 40 days as opposed to 16,535 for last year's 36. Total attendance for 2015 was 582,324.
According to figures from The Jockey Club Information Services Del Mar's paid purses totaled $24,371,898 for the meet, up 1.9% compared with last year. Average daily purses were down 8.3% to $609,297.
The new dirt main track, installed over the winter at a cost of approximately $5 million, performed well throughout the session, even overcoming freakish rain storms in the first weekend of the meet by using its freshly installed drainage system to good advantage.
"Both tracks performed very well," said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president Joe Harper. "We had a strong racing product and generated momentum going into the fall season. There is a new normal, not just at Del Mar, but with California racing in general.
"More racing here means more opportunities, but also less immediacy for our fans. We will continue to adapt as Del Mar plays a larger role in the industry."
On the track Rafael Bejarano won his fifth overall—and fourth straight—Del Mar leading rider title and Jerry Hollendorfer won his first solo training championship.
The 33-year-old Peruvian jockey registered 40 wins to win comfortably over Flavien Prat, who recorded 30 wins in his first season at Del Mar. Bejarano won his first Del Mar title in 2008 and was back on top to stay in 2012. Bejarano's 2015 win total gave him 180 wins during his four-year reign atop the standings.
Hall of Famer Hollendorfer, 69, got his name in the Del Mar record book for the first time in 2014 when he shared the title with Peter Miller with 20 wins each. The race came down to the same two trainers this season. Hollendorfer finished with 22 wins in the 40-day meeting, two more than his 2014 total. Miller had 20 for the second year in a row.
Del Mar's fall session, which this year will be five weeks instead of the four run last year, will be Oct. 29-Nov. 29. This will be the second year Del Mar has offered fall racing.