After experiencing the wettest winter in the track's 70-year history, Santa Anita Park concluded its 2004-05 winter/spring meeting with only a 3% decline in total handle. Average on-track attendance for the meet was 8,062, a decrease of 9% from the 2003-04 meet, while average daily on-track handle was $2.1 million, down 8% from 2003-04. "Notwithstanding the unyielding rain we endured this winter, and the impact that this historic weather pattern had on attendance, field sizes, and training, we were encouraged with several developments," said Santa Anita president Jack McDaniel. "We recorded substantial increases in attendance and handle for our three showcase events -- opening day, Big 'Cap, and the Santa Anita Derby. Furthermore, from the mid-point of our season following Presidents' Day until closing, on-track attendance and handle rebounded to a pace that was even with last year."
Forty-five inches of rain fell on the Arcadia, Calif., track during the meet, which ran from Dec. 26 to April 18, making it the wettest winter in Santa Anita history and the second wettest winter in the Los Angeles area in the past 100 years, according to the National Weather Bureau. Twenty-eight days, nearly one third of this year's racing calendar, were designated "off " track (compared to five off-track days last season). A full racing day was cancelled on Sunday, Jan. 9. The last date that Santa Anita lost a day of racing due to rain was Jan. 12, 1995. Average daily total handle, which includes wagers on Santa Anita by Advanced Deposit Wagering Providers, was $10.8 million, a decrease of 3% from last year. At Southern California off-track locations, average daily handle was $3 million, a decrease of 7%, while average daily out-of-state handle was $4.8 million, a decrease of only 2%.