Shorter, No-Turf Hollywood Meet Shows Declines

The absence of turf racing didn't impact the Hollywood Park fall meet as much as expected--at least in terms of averages--according to meet-end figures released by the Southern California racetrack.

For the 27-day session that ended Dec. 19, daily average handle on the Hollywood Park product was $8,588,871, down only 4% from $8,944,323 for 36 days last year. The on-track daily average of $1,309,921 was down only one-third of 1% from $1,313,553 in 2004.

Total handle, however, fell 28%, from $321,995,649 last year to $231,899,539 in 2004. Total account wagering handle fell 23.5%, according to the release.

The scheduled 31-day meet was shortened by four days given the lack of turf racing. Track officials determined just before the meet began that the new turf course wasn't suitable for racing, and work began to install a new course that will be used in 2006.

With several grade I turf stakes canceled for this year, and nine fewer racing days, total purses paid fell from $12,519,021 last year to $8,814,506, though some money was shifted to supplement purses for some grass races at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California.

Officials said overnight purses were increased 15% when the meet began, and another 5% that was retroactive to opening day. Daily average purses were $326,463, down 6% from $347,751.

Field size at Hollywood Park was 7.45 per race, down slightly from 7.54 for the 2004 fall meet.

Hollywood Park released combined attendance figures--on track and at other wagering outlets in the state. The daily average statewide attendance of 12,758 was down 8.4% from 13,929 last year.

In a statement, track officials thanked the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers for their support during the meet given the circumstances.