Anne M. Eberhardt

BC Attendance Up, Total Handle Slips

Lower ticket prices helped increase attendance while two less races affected handle.

Attendance for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships was up 11% for the two-day event Friday, Nov. 6, and Saturday, Nov. 7, at Santa Anita Park, but the total common pool handle fell 7%. The increase in people at the races was attributed to lower tickets prices and no longer requiring fans to buy two-day ticket packages. The handle was down in part because one fewer race was run on each day.

After a 20% increase in attendance on Friday, 58,845 were on hand today for the 10-race card that included eight Breeders’ Cup World Championship races, a 6% increase from the 2008 Saturday attendance of 55,351. Total attendance for the two days increased from 86,588 to 96,496.

“It was an electric atmosphere for two days and Zenyatta delivered what is arguably the greatest performance in the 26-year history of the event,” said Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Greg Avioli. “The Breeders’ Cup extends its sincere thanks to all the owners who entered their horses this weekend, to our partners at Oak Tree and Santa Anita and to all of our nominators and the racing fans around the world whose support makes our event possible.”

On-track handle increased both days despite one less race on each day’s card compared to 2008. Saturday’s on-track handle was $12,177,982, an increase of 3% over 2008.

The common-pool handle for Saturday’s 10-race card was $96,159,747, a decrease of 6% from 2008’s 11-race card. The $48,439,458 bet on Friday’s nine races was a 1% increase over the 2008 10-race Friday card. The two-day common pool total was $144,599,205. (Down 7%)

An all-sources figure of $155,474,553 was wagered on the 2008 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, which was the second year the event was conducted over a two-day period. Handle at last year’s event at Monmouth Park, which was the first to be run over two days, was $147,381,170.

“Given the economy and national wagering trends, we are very happy this performance and with the overall business results” said Sherwood C. Chillingworth, Executive Vice President of the Oak Tree Racing Association.  Officials indicated that carding one fewer race each day and several long shot winners on Saturday may have adversely impacted total wagering.

Complete all-sources Breeders’ Cup handle numbers, including separate pools and exchange wagering, will be available early next week.