(Edited Del Mar press release)
At it passed the mid-point of its 2009 meet, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club reported double-digit increases in on-track attendance and wagering.
With 20 of 37 racing days in the books, on-track attendance was running 11.8% ahead of last season, while on-track handle numbers were up 12.8% for the first four weeks of the 2008 meeting. Del Mar had raced on a six days per week since 1946, but citing a horse shortage in the state and the downturn of the general economy it received approval from the California Horse Racing Board to drop its Monday programs (with the exception of Labor Day) and cut back to a five-day week.
Daily average figures show this year's on-track crowd at 18,607 per day, up from 2008's 16,645 at this point. Average daily on-track handle numbers are $2,389,811, compared with last year's $2,118,530 after four weeks.
"We'e tickled with the response our fans have given us so far at the meet," said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club's president and general manager Joe Harper. "We put several new things in place ahead of our opening.. and the response has been excellent. Besides, we have much of our best racing to come, including a blockbuster Pacific Classic Racing Festival on Labor Day weekend, so we're hoping to keep riding the wave all the way home."
One of the track's promotions -- "Free & Easy Wednesdays" offering free admissions, programs and seats, as well as half-price drinks and hot dogs. -- has proven popular, with attendance jumping 42% on those afternoons and handle rising 30%.
Beyond the on-track averages, Del Mar's total wagering numbers nearly even with last year's. When all sources are considered for handle purposes -- including satellite betting in the state, as well as out-of-state, out-of-country and ADW wagering -- those daily average are up 0.2% after four weeks.