(Edited Calder report)
Calder Race Course concluded its 35th Tropical Meet on Jan. 2 with a 9.65% decline in on-track wagering and a drop of 6.77% in attendance.
Total wagering, including all sources from 60 days of live racing and 18 days of simulcast-only wagering, was $327.45 million, compared to $321.79 million one year ago for an increase of 1.76%.
The overall increase can be attributed to five more live racing days in 2006 than last year. Calder lost five race dates in 2005 due to Hurricane Wilma and its aftermath.
Average daily on-track wagering by patrons betting on Calder’s live races totaled $362,211 versus a daily average of $400,886 during the previous year.
Total combined handle – which includes on-track, inter-track and interstate wagering on Calder’s live racing program – averaged $3.67 million each day, compared to an average of $3.97 million a year ago, a drop of 7.56%.
Track officials blamed the declines on unseasonable amounts of rain that caused a 15.5% increase in the number of carded turf races that had to be switched to the main track.
Calder was hit by more than 12 inches of rain during the months of November and December, compared to six inches of rain for the same time period last season.
According to Calder’s racing office, inclement weather during the 2006-07 Tropical Meet caused more than 26% of carded turf races to be moved to the dirt surface, compared to only 10.5% last season. In addition, nearly 21% of all races were contested over “off” racing surfaces.
As a result, the average runners per race for the 2006-07 Tropical Meet was 7.35 compared to 7.90 last year.
Average daily on-track attendance was 3,843, down from the previous year’s average of 4,122.
“Last year we had a record number of hurricanes, but experienced good weather for most of the Tropical Meet, which is typically a dry time of year in South Florida,” said Calder President Ken Dunn. “This season, the weather has been summer-like and exceptionally wet. It is frustrating to have so many races come off the grass, because that typically results in more scratches.
"While we are pleased with the quality of our racing program, mother nature continued to challenge us this season. We believe our on-track attendance declines are due in part to the rainy weather and to the significant in-market competition Calder continues to face from other sports, gaming, and entertainment facilities.”
Total purses for the meet were $12.84 million, compared to total purses of $11.52 million during the 2005-06 Tropical season.
The daily average of $213,997 represents a 2.16% increase over last year’s daily average of $209,480.
Apprentice rider Jermaine Bridgmohan, who just started riding this summer at Calder, not only secured his first leading jockey title at the Tropical Meet but also smashed the single season record of 84 wins previously held by Cornelio Velasquez in the 2002-03 season. Bridgmohan won a total of 110 races during the meet.
Trainer Kirk Ziadie astounded with a 53% win rate and 25 total wins for his first Tropical title. Bill White made a good run on closing day, winning three races on the afternoon, but still ended up one behind Ziadie in the final standings. White had been the leading Tropical trainer in five previous years.
Dan Hurtak also won his first Tropical at Calder title as leading owner. His 10 victories edged out Steve Dwoskin by one race. Hurtak led the Tropical standings as leading trainer in 2001 and 2004.
Calder is scheduled to begin its 36th season of racing on April 25.