by Raymond Whelan
Retama Park, which offered a shorter Thoroughbred season this year, registered strong gains in on-track business.
For the 39-day session that spanned July 23-Sept. 25, average daily attendance was 4,169, up 34% from the corresponding 48-day meet in 2003. Average daily on-track handle on the live product was $116,544, up 15%, while average handle per live race was $12,061, up 28%.
This year's session at the racetrack near San Antonio, Texas, was cut short to accommodate a 19-day fall meet at Lone Star Park that leads up to the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
"It is very gratifying to see how the market has responded to our product," said Bryan Brown, chief executive officer and president of Retama Entertainment Group, which manages the facility that opened in 1994.
Much of the on-track success at Retama is attributed to the "50-cent night" promotion the track holds on weekends. On opening night, more than 12,000 patrons were on hand for the promotion.
The Texas Racing Commission has awarded Retama 43 Thoroughbred dates for 2005, from Aug. 5-Oct. 15. Lone Star will not offer fall Thoroughbred racing next year.