Del Mar

Del Mar

Del Mar Attendance Increases, Handle Declines

Final numbers show 4.2% increase in average attendance and 6.8% decline in wagering.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club ended its 37-day meet Sept. 8 with a 4.2% increase in average daily attendance and a 6.8% decline in average daily wagering.

The seaside California racetrack reported total attendance of 662,521 for a daily average 17,906, compared with a daily average of 17,181 from a total turnstile count of 635,679 in 2009.

With a decrease of 19 races—5.5%—from last year, all-sources average daily handle of $12,154,359 represented a decline of 6.8% from last year’s daily average of $13,039,998. Del Mar reported total handle of $449,711,296, compared with $482,479,925 in 2009.

Del Mar averaged 8.2 runners per race, down from last year’s 8.5 per-race average.

"When you look around at the challenges that seem pervasive in our industry, and then you see the sort of response we’ve gotten at our meet from our horsemen and our fans, you just know there’s much we’ve got to be grateful for," Del Mar president and general manager Craig Fravel said in a statement.

Del Mar also reported a decline in catastrophic (fatal) injuries, with seven this year, compared with 13 in 2009. Of those fatalities, five occurred on the main Polytrack surface this year, compared with 12 main-track fatalities a year ago.

For the second year in a row, Del Mar conducted five days of live racing per week, and there are no plans to revert to a six-day week.

"Five days a week at Del Mar is here to stay," Del Mar chief executive officer Joe Harper said in the release. "This is the second year in a row that we’ve shown that format is a winner with everyone--our horsemen, our fans and our staff."

"I had some concerns about field size given our circumstances this summer," said Del Mar executive vice president for racing and industry relations Tom Robbins, "but our horsemen responded well."

Though  final numbers were still being calculated on the meet’s closing day, the release said "it appeared all but certain that the track would offer a significant retroactive purse distribution to its horsemen, perhaps as much as $500,000. Those additional purse monies were tied directly to improved betting on a per-race basis throughout the meet."

In one of the closest races of the meet, Joel Rosario won the final race of the final day to take a 57-56 edge over Rafael Bejarano as leading jockey. Doug O’Neill was the meet’s leading trainer, with 31 wins. Zenyatta was voted horse of the meet.