Hawthorne Race Course reported increases in average daily pari-mutuel handle for its 2014 fall/winter meet, which ended Dec. 31.
Officials at the Illinois racetrack said average daily all-sources handle was up 6.95% to $2,126,759 compared with $1,998,580 for the comparable meet in 2013. Out-of-state wagering on average was up 7.76% to $1,900,679 compared with $1,763,776 in 2013. On-track handle on live racing averaged $66,638 per day, down 2.61% from $68,426, but officials said they expected a decrease by not racing Sunday afternoons during the meet.
Field size for the 48-day meet averaged 8.21 horses per race; the average for 51 turf races during the meet was 9.20 starters per race, officials said. The 2013 fall/winter meet spanned 61 days.
Purses averaged $142,663 per day at Hawthorne, down 18.7% from $175,639 for the fall meet in 2013, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. Tracks in Illinois continue to struggle with purse accounts.
"So much goes into making a racing meet successful," Hawthorne president and general manager Tim Carey. "This fall we tried a lot different things: going back to a four-day racing week, changing multi-race wagering minimums to 20 cents, and moving post times to fall within the national schedule. Those moves, combined with good weather, great participation from our horsemen, support from bettors, and increased coverage from TVG all make a big difference.
"Our online partners at Xpressbet have been great supporters as their cross-promotion with Hawthorne has been very important. Additionally, we had very competitive racing throughout the fall. We have shown that with the proper adjustments, racing is moving in the right direction at Hawthorne and we fully expect this trend to continue in 2015."
William Stiritz won the title as leading owner for the fall meet with 23 wins from 101 starts. Doubledown Stables Inc. of Richard Templer finished second in the standings with 10 wins. Meadow Lane Stables of Brandon Moran was third with eight wins.
Jockey Emmanuel Esquivel won 62 races to capture the first Hawthorne riding title of his young career. Esquivel was able to hold off seven-time champ Tim Thornton, who finished second with 53 wins.
The battle for leading trainer went down to the wire as Scott Becker, who trains for Stiritz, won a race on the final day of the fall meet to edge Jim DiVito 23-22.
Hawthorne races Jan. 1-3 but those days are included with the 2015 winter/spring meet, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 20 and run through April 26.