Handle Up, Attendance Down So Far at Colonial

After 30 days of live racing, handle and attendance for Colonial Downs' Thoroughbred meet is mixed. Average daily handle on live racing at Colonial Downs is $1,224,667, up 16% over the same period last year.

Colonial is accepting $155,536 more in wagers each day than it did in 2005.

"We're very pleased with that aspect. It shows that product is strong. It's very popular out-of-state," said Colonial Downs President Ian Stewart.

The average daily on-track attendance is 1,757, down 13.4% or by 271 patrons per day over that same period. Unless the figure sharply increases, on-track attendance at Colonial Downs would be it's lowest since 2000.

"In regard to attendance, it's been tough with the price of gas," observed Stewart. "We are more of a destination place being located 30 miles from Richmond and farther than that from Tidewater."

This summer's meet is the first operated by Colonial Downs independent of the Maryland Jockey Club. With last year's purchase of the Maryland-Virginia Racing Circuit by Colonial's owner, Jeffrey Jacobs, for $10 million, the management agreement with the Magna Entertainment was terminated.

With 42 days of live racing this year, Colonial's 2006 meet is 40% longer than it was in 2003 when Colonial's meet consisted of 30 days of live racing. Comparing this summer's figures with 2003, handle would be up 6.1% with attendance down 19.9%.

Wagering on live racing at Colonial may set a new cumulative record, on target to exceed $50 million. It appears that attendance won't reach the cumulative total of 81,126 obtained last year's shorter 40-day meet.

With the closing day Aug. 12, Colonial offers live racing Friday through Tuesday with a 1 p.m. first race post time on weekends and a 5 p.m. first race post time on weekdays.