Competitive race fields drove total wagering to a record $158,368,308 during Keeneland’s 2007 spring race meeting, conducted April 6 -27, in spite of poor weather that resulted in a 11.9% on-track attendance drop from the 2006 record season.
The all-sources handle figure, which includes on-track and off-track wagering as well as whole card simulcasting conducted at Keeneland, represents a more than 10% increase over the previous record of $143,479,802 set last spring. Total wagering averaged a record $10,557,887 per day, breaking last year’s record of $9,565,320. The record handle was achieved despite unseasonably cold, inclement weather – which saw accumulating snow on opening weekend – throughout much of the race meet.
On-track attendance totaled 215,030 for the meet, a decrease from last spring’s record of 244,145. Average daily attendance was 14,335. A single-day attendance record of 33,821 was set on April 21, which featured the $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), won by Slew’s Tizzy. The previous record was 33,621 set on April 16, 2005, for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
“Mother Nature won this one,” said Keeneland President Nick Nicholson. “When the weather was good, the fans came out in record numbers. And, through it all – the snow, the rain and the cold – the new Polytrack surface held up well and there were full, competitive fields which resulted in a record all-sources mutuel handle. In many ways, the Polytrack was the star of the meet.”
It was the first spring meet conducted over Polytrack, which remained consistent and safe in the face of snow, rain and sub-freezing wind chill temperatures. Field size averaged 9.5 horses this spring versus 8.09 . Polytrack races also averaged 9.5 starters per race, up 21.4% from last spring when racing was conducted over the conventional dirt track.
Keeneland realized substantial increases in interstate commingled wagering, which rose 14% to $125,952,284 compared to last year’s record of $110,401,486. Average daily interstate handle of $8,396,819 also topped 2006’s record level of $7,360,099.
On-track wagering on Keeneland racing dipped slightly to $20,919,811 from last year’s $21,833,015. Total on-track handle, which includes whole card wagering at Keeneland, of $25,859,223 was down 5% from last year’s $27,129,925.
Purses for the 15-day spring meet averaged $641,915 compared to $641,253 during the 2006 spring meet.
The French team of Patrick Biancone and Julien Leparoux made it back-to-back titles as Keeneland’s leading trainer and jockey.
Biancone won 12 races from 54 starts, including the Doubledogdare (gr. III) with Asi Siempre, to capture his first Keeneland spring meet title. Biancone won his first leading trainer title at Keeneland last fall.
Leparoux, 2006 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice rider, topped the Keeneland jockey standings with 22 wins from 118 starts, for his third consecutive Keeneland riding title.
Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum’s Darley Stable was the meet’s leading owner with five wins.