Del Mar On-Track Totals Still Outpacing 2008

Offical "thrilled" with hike in business as the California meet enters final week.

Regardless of how you slice it, the average on-track figures for the 2009 Del Mar meet continue to run ahead of last year as the 37-day stand heads into the final week of action.

Through the track's 30th program Aug. 30, Del Mar was averaging 17,560 patrons a day with an on-track handle of $2,281,188 in 2009. Compared to last year's figures, when the track was running six days a week instead of the current five-day schedule, the on-track attendance jumped 12.4% from the 2008 average of 17,560 at the completion of six weeks. The on-track average handle for 2008, $2,076,270, was 9.9% lower.

Due to the weak economy and a decline in available horses, Del Mar opted to cut Mondays -- traditionally its slowest day of the week -- from the current schedule. Comparing this year's on-track figures to last year with Mondays excluded from the statistics, Del Mar continues to show modest improvement in 2009.

This year's attendance figure, 526,551, is up by 2.7% over last year (512,941) when Mondays are eliminated. The current-year handle, $68,228,273, is a 1.4% increase over last year's $67,276,836, under the same scenario.

"We're thrilled with the numbers to date," said Craig Dado, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club vice president for marketing. "Coming into the season, we didn't know what the economy might do to business. It's very encouraging that the on-track figures have remained strong."

Del Mar's meet continues through Sept. 9, including its only Monday race card of the season on Labor Day.