On-Track Wagering and Attendance Increase at Lone Star Park

Lone Star Park ended its 63-date Spring meeting on July 11 with gains in average daily on-track attendance and on-track handle despite enduring the second-wettest June in Dallas-Fort Worth history.

More than 548,000 customers passed through the Lone Star Park turnstiles from April 15-July 11 for a daily average of 8,700. The figure was up 1.0% from the average of 8,600 that attended the 70-date meeting in 2003.

On-track wagering totaled $78.4 million, and the 13-week meeting saw average daily on-track betting increase 3.9% to $1.24 million, compared to $1.20 million in 2003.

"Our on-track business has been healthy since the start of the year," said Jeff Greco, Lone Star Park's vice president and general manager. "Understandably, there has been a shift of live dollars to simulcast dollars due to increased competition in the simulcast marketplace. But the bottom line is that we were up on-track and we're in an ideal position for our fall Thoroughbred meeting. Our purse account is healthy and better than our original projections, and we have local momentum heading into an exciting summer simulcast season."

The increase in on-track dollars was largely due to record simulcast wagering, which totaled $44.3 million at the meet. The daily average for simulcast wagers skyrocketed 11.3% to an unprecedented $704,000 daily versus $632,000 in 2003. And since the start of the year, in excess of $101.6 million has been wagered at Lone Star Park on simulcasts across North America - a 7.6% gain or $7.1 million more than last year to date.

On-track betting on live racing dipped 4.5% from an average of $566,000 to $540,000 per day, while daily average off-track betting at simulcast outlets nationwide fell 9.7% from $1.96 million to $1.77 million.

For the first time in its eighth year of operation, Lone Star Park will stage a second Thoroughbred meeting in 2004. A 19-date Thoroughbred season in October (Oct. 1-31) will replace the usual Fall Meeting of Champions for American Quarter Horses because the North Texas racetrack is hosting the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

As a result, a number of stakes races and major events that traditionally appeared in the spring were moved to the fall, including three major fixtures - the Jockey Championship (known this year as the International Jockey Championship), Walmac Lone Star Derby (gr. III) and Stars of Texas Day (a day devoted to Texas-breds). Both the International Jockey Championship (Oct. 28) and Walmac Lone Star Derby (Oct.29) will be held Breeders' Cup week.

"We're really looking forward to the Breeders' Cup," Greco said. "Because of our first fall season for Thoroughbreds, we're keeping our stable area and main track open between the live meetings and many of the major outfits will continue to train a total of approximately 500 horses here. And starting the first week of August, the installation of approximately 38,000 temporary seats for the Breeders' Cup will begin.