Sunshine Millions: Higher Ratings, Attendance, Handle

There is plenty of sunshine in the final tally from last weekend's Sunshine Millions according to a press release issued by Magna Entertainment Corp. MEC reports the second running of the Sunshine Millions eclipsed last year's successes, both on track and in the home.

The Sunshine Millions, conceived by MEC chairman Frank Stronach, was a special eight-race series that pitted Florida-breds against California-breds with more than $3.6 million in purses on the table.

Telecast on NBC Sports, the two-hour broadcast of races from Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita recorded an overnight rating of 1.7, topping last year's 1.5 rating for a one-hour show. This year's edition secured a 4% share of all televisions in use, up from 3% a year ago. Last year was the first running of the Sunshine Millions.

"We were the leading network sports program in major markets such as Boston, Cleveland, and Miami," said Jim McAlpine, Magna Entertainment Corp.'s president and chief executive officer.

On-track handle increased by 6.9% at Gulfstream and 2.6% at Santa Anita. The combined increase in on-site handle was 4.5%, generated by a total of $8.5 million in wagering. All sources handle for Santa Anita and Gulfstream, together with on-site handle wagered through all MEC distribution points, topped $38 million.

Despite cool, overcast weather, attendance at Santa Anita increased from 17,108 a year ago to 18,888, while attendance at Gulfstream Park increased to 25,179 from 18,719 last year.