The Keeneland paddock was a popular place this Fall.

The Keeneland paddock was a popular place this Fall.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Keeneland Fall Meet Bucks National Trends

All-sources handle in live racing was up 9.3% and total attendance set a record.

Keeneland overcame national trends during its 75th anniversary meet with a 9.3% gain in all-sources pari-mutuel handle on live races and an all-time attendance record for one meet.

The Kentucky racetrack, which wrapped up its 17-day fall meet Oct. 29, reported all-sources handle of $128,533,933 compared with $117,600,498 for the 2010 fall meet, which also spanned 17 days. Because of the same number of days, average daily all-sources handle was up by the same percentage from $6,917,676 last year to $7,560,820 this year.

Nationally, handle is down roughly 10% from this time last year.

Total attendance was reported at 250,163 for an average of 14,715 per day—an 8.8% increase from 2010 and higher than the record of 244,145 set at the 2006 spring meet of 15 days.

The first two three-day weekends each attracted more than 60,000 patrons, track officials said.

“This was a strong meeting in so many ways—from attendance, to wagering, to quality of racing” Keeneland president and chief executive officer Nick Nicholson said in a statement. “Add the national coverage with NBC, Versus, and TVG, and our month-long celebration with the community and the industry, and I think we have much to be thankful for this meet.”

Keeneland had no problem filling races, as field size on the Polytrack and turf course averaged 10.1 starters per race, up from 9.9 last fall.

“It is very rewarding that 75 years after our first meet, we continue to be blessed with racing at the highest level possible,” Keeneland vice president of racing Rogers Beasley said. “We are fortunate to have a top-notch stakes program, led by a number of Breeders’ Cup prep races. We also had a large contingent of Breeders’ Cup contenders electing to race and train here.”

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

On the racetrack, Julien Leparoux, Ken McPeek, and G. Watts Humphrey Jr. captured leading jockey, trainer, and owner titles, respectively.

Leparoux, who won races in bunches, including five on Oct. 21 and Oct. 29, visited the winner’s circle 33 times for his third fall-meet riding title. He already is in sixth-place all-time for races won at Keeneland.

McPeek earned his third consecutive Keeneland title and fourth overall with 10 wins, while Humphrey, alone and in partnership, won seven races.