Turfway Park

Turfway Park

Pat Lang

Mixed Results at Shorter Turfway Park Meet

With fewer days, ontrack handle increased while total handle decreased at Turfway.

Turfway Park, which raced four days a week instead of five during its holiday meet, reported an increase in average daily ontrack wagering but, as expected, a decrease in average daily all-sources pari-mutuel handle.

The 17-day meet began Dec. 2 and ended Dec. 31. The Kentucky track raced 21 days in 2009.

Average daily wagering on Turfway races by patrons ontrack rose to $116,371, while average daily wagering on Turfway races from all sources fell 15.1% to $2,372,697.

When comparing the 2010 meet to the 2009 edition, total ontrack wagering fell 10.6% to $1,978,311, while all-sources wagering fell 31.3% to $40,335,854, according to statistics released by Turfway. Field size improved slightly to 10.2 starters per race compared with 10.1 in 2009.

Total purses dropped 24.6% to $1,767,775, while average daily purses dropped 6.8% to $103,987. Turfway held the line on overnight purses to ensure a $50,000 stakes could be run each week of the holiday meet.

Turfway lost one full card due to a winter storm and a partial card on a Friday night because of a power outage.

On the plus side, Turfway, which usually races in the afternoon the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, opted to maintain its 5:30 p.m. EST first post time on Friday, New Year’s Eve. Turfway president Bob Elliston said the experiment was successful.

Ontrack handle Dec. 31 for 12 races was up 70% from the corresponding afternoon program in 2009, while food and beverage sales were up 500% from a typical Friday night, Elliston said. The track offered several party plans for the New Year’s Eve program and received “nothing but positive comments from guests,” Elliston said.

Reserve seating for the parties sold out, track officials said. The track had to open its fifth-floor dining room to accommodate guests.

The New Year’s Eve program for 2011 falls on a Saturday, which usually features afternoon racing, but Elliston said based on the experience of 2010, “it is our intent to run New Year’s Eve cards at night going forward.”

The only other Thoroughbred track to race New Year’s Eve night was Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino, which handled about $1 million on its 10-race card. Though New Year’s Eve would seem to offer an opportunity to introduce the public to racing and also generate revenue through food and beverage sales, most racetracks, including those already open because they have casino gambling, don’t race at night on New Year’s Eve.

On the track, 17-year-old apprentice jockey Marcelino Pedroza Jr. won the Turfway riding title with 21 victories over the 17 days. Mike Maker won his sixth Turfway training title with 11 winners, while Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and Michael Snyder’s Patton Creek Farm tied for leading owner with three wins each.

The Turfway winter/spring meet began Jan. 1 and runs through April 3.