On-Track Numbers Stable at Lone Star Park; Off-Track Handle Down

Edited release from Lone Star Park
On-track business remained stable during Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie's 10th spring Thoroughbred season as approximately 6,900 customers passed through the turnstiles daily and wagered more than $1.05 million on average during the 66-date meeting that concluded Sunday. Attendance slipped just 1.3% and on-track handle was off only 2.2% from the 2005 averages.

"We're pleased to be virtually even with last year's on-track business levels, especially when you consider that our competitive factors have increased," said Drew Shubeck, who completed his first season as Lone Star Park's vice president and general manager. "Competition from out-of-state venues that offer alternative forms of gaming and the growth of online wagering continues to be a challenge for Texas horse racing. We also had to overcome weather-related challenges this season on several big event days and a playoff run from the Dallas Mavericks that culminated with a trip to the NBA Finals in mid-June. Challenges in a great market like Dallas-Fort Worth will always exist, but our team did a tremendous job to maintain business levels."

Lone Star, which ran its meeting over 15 weeks from April 13 to July 23, went head-to-head with Dallas Mavericks playoff games on 14 occasions, and was threatened by rain on 17 occasions including several big events. Also, there were seven race days with high temperatures of at least 100 degrees compared to just two a year ago.

Despite an increase in average starters per race to 8.71 horses, the off-track export handle at North American simulcast outlets slipped 11.4% to $1.5 million daily versus $1.7 million in 2005. Therefore, wagering on Lone Star's races both on- and off-track was off 9.9% to $1.9 million each day compared to $2.1 million a year ago.

"We need to make our product more attractive for both on- and off-track customers," Shubeck said. "We're taking a hard look at repositioning stakes races to create more big event days for our 10th anniversary in 2007. Also, we should average three to four turf races daily next year thanks to enhancements that will occur to our turf course this summer.

"Additionally, we want to provide more amenities for our on-track patrons, such as additional betting windows and a new bar in the saddling paddock. We also plan to take our customer rewards program to another level this summer so we can offer added value to the loyal customers that frequent Lone Star Park on a year-round basis for simulcast wagering. More than any other time in my career, I can't wait until opening day next year."

Veteran jockey Cliff Berry notched his second straight local riding title and eclipsed Corey Lanerie's 1999 mark of 102 wins in a single season with 103 trips to the Lone Star winner's circle. Steve Asmussen, the three-time national win-leader, held off Bret Calhoun and Cody Autrey (55-52-51) to win his eighth local training title despite missing the final eight days due to a Louisiana suspension. Jerry and Sandy Heflin of Rockwall, Texas won 17 races to upend four-time champ Tom Durant by one as Lone Star's leading owner.