Keeneland Photo

Through Eight Days, Keeneland Reports Gains

Keeneland has reported gains in attendance and ontrack handle.

Through the first eight days of its fall meet, Keeneland reported solid increases in ontrack attendance and pari-mutuel handle, and steady all-sources wagering.

At the meet’s midpoint, attendance has totaled 124,870, up 28% from 97,837 for the same period in the fall of 2009, the Lexington track reported Oct. 19. For the first two Saturdays of the meet, attendance topped 20,000.

For the meet, Keeneland implemented a new $5 preferred parking charge for a few lots that use to offer free parking. Lots between the grandstand and entertainment center are now used for free parking, with shuttle service provided.

Total ontrack handle of $11,624,608, which includes betting on live races and full-card simulcasts, is up 10% from $10,601,248 for the same period last year, officials said. All-sources handle was almost even with 2009: $64,902,124 this year compared with $65,026,448 last year.

Field size for the first eight programs has averaged 9.99 per race, up from 9.91, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems.

Not unexpectedly, purses are down. So far for the fall of 2010, Keeneland has paid an average of $721,978 per day, down 13.4% from $833,815 for the first eight days of the 2009 fall meet.

Keeneland cut about $1 million in stakes purses for the fall session, as well some overnight purses.

“It has been a classic Keeneland fall meet so far—great crowds, some of the nation’s top horses and riders, and a stretch of mild, sunny days,” Keeneland president and chief executive officer Nick Nicholson said in a statement. “Our strong handle figures reflect full fields of top-quality horses, which makes for a very competitive simulcast product.”

The fall, as usual, was front-loaded with top stakes. Track officials said the connections of 34 horses that competed in those events are being pointed toward the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs.