Arlington Handle, Attendance Fall Sharply

(edited Arlington Park release)
The 95-day 2006 Arlington Park race meet concluded with decreases in handle and attendance compared to the Chicago-area track's 2005 meeting.

Total handle from all sources for the meet – run May 5 through Sept. 12 – was $371,109,123, an 8.5% decrease from last year's total of $405,443,841 wagered over 94 days in 2005. The average daily total handle of the just concluded meet, $3,906,412, fell short of last year's average of $4,313,232 by $406,820 per day. The decrease was 9.4%.

On track, a total of $46,215,951 was wagered, $7,853,973 and 14.5% less than $54,069,924 during 2005. Average daily wagering decreased by 15.4%, from $575,211 in 2005 to $486,484 this year, a daily decrease of $88,727.

On-track attendance also declined sharply. The 2006 season concluded with a total attendance of 655,788 compared to 715,023 last year. Average daily attendance in 2006 was 6,903 compared with 7,607 in 2005, a drop of 9.3%.

"The inordinate amount of rain in Chicago this spring and summer had a negative impact on our attendance during the meet," said Roy Arnold, Arlington Park president . "The cold and inclement weather on the big days during the early part of our meet, especially for the opening weekend, Mother's Day, Father's Day and on two of the Triple Crown races days, got us off to a slow start and prevented us from gaining momentum.  After the Fourth of July, when the weather was better, the attendance improved but not enough to make up what we had lost earlier."

Total average daily purses paid during the 2006 meet amounted to $272,224, a 5.6% increase of $14,499 compared to daily average purses of $257,725 in 2005. The 2006 average number of starters per race of 7.44 was down from the 2005 meet average of 7.98 starters per race.

On the track, owner Frank C. Calabrese earned his seventh consecutive title as the meet's leading owner with 49 wins, more than three times the total of runner-up 2 Blondes Inc., who posted 14 victories.

Trainer Wayne Catalano made it back-to-back training titles and his fifth in the last seven years with 49 wins. Frank Kirby finished second with 31 victories.

Chris Emigh picked up his first Arlington jockey championship with 110 victories. Francisco Torres, competing at Arlington on a full-time basis for the first time since 1994, was second in the standings with 98 wins.