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Hollywood Betters Projections for Spring Meet

The 57-day stand concludes with a 2.5% drop in total handle, according to the track.

The just-concluded Hollywood Park 2011 spring/summer stand was off 2.4% in average total handle, according to Hollywood Park officials.

The Inglewood track averaged $9,251,001 in wagering from all sources over the course of its 54-day meet. That compared to $9,475,894 per day for the 57-program 2010 stand, based on the numbers provided by Hollywood Park vice president Bernie Thurman. Hollywood's 2011 spring/summer session concluded July 17.

"Based on my expectations coming in, I was delighted by it," track president Jack Liebau said July 20 of the overall results. He pointed to a rough Santa Anita meet preceding Hollywood's start in April, a continuing horseplayers' boycott in protest over take-out hikes on exotic wagers, and a 12 1/2% unemployment rate in the region for his pessimistic outlook.

Due to lower projections for the meet, Liebau confirmed that a retroactive increase of about 7% would be paid to owners of horses who earned purses from April 23 to June 26. A 10% purse increase was added earlier for the final three weeks of the season.

Hollywood reported that gross all-source handle was off by more than $40 million compared to last year's meet, when the track ran 28 more races.That represents a drop of 7.5%. All-source wagering totaled almost $500 million in 2011.

On-track handle took the biggest hit during the spring summer meet, falling 5.4% ($1,057,642 per day compared to $1,118,158 in 2010), according to Thurman. Official on-track attendance was off 8.8% -- 4,864 this year compared to 5,334 last year, Thurman said, but was made up for by attendance at Southern California simulcast wagering facilities, which was up by 4.8%.

Average handle within California's simulcast wagering system was also up incrementally at 0.8%, Thurman said. Satellite facilities averaged $3,705,360 in 2011 versus $3,677,401 last year, she said, which reversed the recent trend in that area.

Elsewhere, field size remained steady at 7.69 horse per race compared to 7.68 last year, according to track officials. There were no days lost on the schedule due to insufficient entries in 2011. Hollywood lost three days for that reason last year.

Liebau called racing secretary Martin Panza and track superintendent Dennis Moore "unsung heroes" for the meet; Panza for keeping field size together with a declining number of horses on the backside, and Moore for maintaining Hollywood's Cushion Track in "outstanding shape."

"I have said before and continue to believe that Hollywood Park has the best track in Southern California," Liebau said.

In answer to the threatened boycott, Hollywood instituted "Player's Pick 5" wager. The new 50-cent minimum bet with a state-low takeout rate of 14% debuted on April 21. The bet was on the first five races daily and the average pool was more than $200,000, according to the track.

Hollywood Park is to reopen Nov. 10 for a six-week fall meeting.