ND Horse Park Posts Strong Racing Numbers

The North Dakota Horse Park reported strong gains on the racing side this year.

The North Dakota Horse Park reported strong gains in on-track business for a mixed meet that ended Sept. 7.

The NDHP, located in Fargo, N.D., opened earlier in the decade and now hosts the longest pari-mutuel meet in the state. The track was scheduled to race 16 days over a seven-week period, but lost one day to inclement weather.

The NDHP reported total on-track handle of $616,298 for 15 days, up 48% from $415,880 for 16 days in 2008. Average daily handle was $41,086, up 58% from $25,993 last year.

The facility, which offers Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing, installed a new AmTote betting system in 2009.

“We had a 12% increase from 2007 to 2008, so to jump 48% in 2009 is just astounding,” NDHP general manager Heather Benson said in a statement. “Considering that nationwide wagering on racing is down double digits in this economy, we are very, very happy with our 2009 numbers.”

The NDHP also reported average daily attendance of 3,800, up from 3,300 in 2008 and 2,500 in 2007. On two days this year, more than 5,000 people attended the races, the track said.

Purses averaged $15,200 a day, up from $14,119 last year, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. Field size was up about one horse per race, from 6.84 last year to 7.85 this year, TJCIS reported.

Supplemental revenue increased as well: Concession sales were up 54%, and program and gift shop sales increased 27%, officials said.

“We took some risks this season by changing our traditional race week from three days to two days and marketing the Horse Park as an entertainment venue for a weekend out,” Benson said. The track raced Fridays and Saturdays at 5 p.m. CDT this year instead of Friday through Sunday each week.