Edited press release
Despite enduring an extremely wet spring/summer meet, Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie concluded its 2007 Thoroughbred season July 29 with modest increases in total and average daily attendance, as well as on-track total handle. Wagering on the live product, however, declined both on and off track.
Total attendance during the 67-day meet (April 12-July 29) increased 4% to 475,000, compared with 457,000 during the 66-date 2006 season. Average daily attendance grew 2.5% to 7,100 versus 6,900 a year ago.
Total on-track wagering, which includes handle on live races and simulcasts, was $73.2 million, a jump of 5.1% from $69.6 million in 2006. Average daily on-track handle increased 3.6% to $1.09 million, compared with $1.05 million last year.
"The North Texas climate is often unpredictable, but this year's record deluge certainly impacted attendance, handle, field sizes, and the training of horses," Lone Star president and general manager Drew Shubeck said. "To show growth in on-track attendance and total on-track handle in a year that featured such obstacles is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire team and partners. Our dedicated fans and horsemen were resilient, and we thank each of them for their growing support during our 10th anniversary year."
In spite of the inclement weather, total on-track wagers on live racing declined 3%, from $29.2 million in 2006 to $28.4 million this season. Off-track export business, however, significantly dipped 14.9% to $83.4 million versus $97.9 million a year ago. As a result, wagering on Lone Star's live races by on- and off-track customers totaled $111.7 million compared with $127.2 million in 2006, a 12.1% decline.
"The decrease in off-track wagering is attributed to several factors," Shubeck said. "Obviously, the weather greatly impacted our product offering and made it less attractive to bettors. That led to soft business in several key markets. California is a prime example--it imported 36% less races this year than 2006."
Average field size dipped to an all-time low of 8.49 horses per race, largely due to a record 527 late scratches (up 42.4% from 370 in 2006).
Trainer Steve Asmussen earned his ninth Lone Star training title in the last 10 years, while the local riding title went to newcomer Ramsey Zimmerman. Sandy and Jerry Heflin and James Driver, who merged into a partnership earlier this year, were named leading owners, while Gold Coyote took horse of the meet honors.
The Lone Star Million on Memorial Day lured a crowd of 16,196 and generated $1.9 million in on-track handle, increases of 29.5% and 21.3%, respectively, from 2006. The simulcast of the Triple Crown series again proved popular with 38,047 customers (up 0.8% from 2006) who wagered in excess of $8.1 million on track (up 8.5%) for the three-race series.
Stars of Texas, a day completely devoted to Texas-breds, also showed significant gains in attendance and handle. The July 7 attendance of 8,110 jumped 31.9%, while on-track total handle was $1.4 million, a 13.8% increase.
Live racing at Lone Star Park will resume Oct. 5 for a 32-date fall Quarter Horse meet than ends Dec. 1.
Lone Star expects to have a similar race schedule for its 2008 spring season.
"Unlike years past, we dropped five Wednesday programs this year in exchange for an additional week of racing," Shubeck said. "A four-day racing week was the prudent move for our current horse population and business model."