While business nationally continues to show double-digit declines, Indiana Downs once again bucked the trends during its recently-concluded 62-day race meet. The Shelbyville track, offering a slots-enriched program, enjoyed a record-setting Thoroughbred meet, with nearly all indicators showing growth. The Indiana Downs product generated nearly $61 million in total handle, an increase of 19.5% from 2008.
"We’re thrilled to death,” said Jon Schuster, Indiana Downs general manager. “There were just so many positive things that took place during the meet. In a year when Hollywood Park and Churchill Downs are cutting dates and purses, here we are again with some encouraging news as the industry and economy are down. We added another eight race days and increased our starters and races. That’s just phenomenal."
Average daily handle at Indiana Downs set a new record, as $983,848 was generated, up from $945,023 in 2008 and good for a 4.11% increase. Last season $51 million was handled over the 54-day meet. The signal sale also set new records, as Indiana Downs averaged $946,604 in daily off-track handle, up 4.31%. While on-track handle posted a 14% increase in total, it slipped .67% in daily calculations. Average starters per race for both the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse programs also increased from 8.6 in 2008 to 8.8 in 2009.
"Everything came together here," Schuster added. "Butch (Cook, race secretary) put together races that were competitive. Purses were good, and the Indiana program was great. It was a great mix of Indiana-bred and open racing. We keep finding ways to bring new outlets on board. We had Canada on board this year. Hopefully we can find a few more markets."
Indiana Downs started strong and finished strong, saving the best for last. The track set a new wagering standard on closing day, July 15, as $1,836,216 was handled on the 12-race card. The new mark eclipsed the old standard by more than $30,000. Indiana Downs is now on the cusp of offering a product that can average $1 million in daily handle.
"I think next year can be the year," said Schuster.
Orlando Mojica topped the rider standings at Indiana Downs with 91 winners in 389 starts. He also led all jockeys with more than $1.36 million in earnings. Leandro Goncalves finished second with 59 wins. Joseph Davis narrowly edged Barbara McBride for the training title, sending out 20 winners in 64 starts. McBride tallied 19 winners from 123 starts.