Wagering Declines at Hollywood Park Meet; Attendance Up Slightly

The 30-day autumn meet at Hollywood Park ended Sunday with a moderate increase in attendance and slight declines in wagering numbers.

The Southern California track reported daily average common pool handle of $8,991,717, a 1.3% decline from the average of $9,111,812 during a 35-day meeting in 2002.

Total common pool handle for the meet was $269,751,497, including $40,217,177 on-track. Approximately $578,000 was wagered each day in separate pool handle for an all-sources total of $287,112,497 -- a daily average of $9,570,417 -- down less than 1% from 2002. Average on-track handle on Hollywood Park's races fell 7.2% to $1,340,573 daily. Average daily purses also declined, from $379,157 in 2002 to $367,992.

Hollywood Park reported that average on-track attendance of 6,516 was up .9% from the figure of 6,458 in 2002. Overall attendance (including Southern California off-track wagering sites) averaged 14,817, down 3.6% from an average of 15,376 in 2002.

Advance Deposit Wagering rose 38% from the comparable meet one year ago to average $519,945.

Hollywood Park president Rick Baedeker attributed to meet figures to the problem of short race fields that has beset California tracks in recent years. The track reported an average of 7.4 starters per race, on par with the 2002 meet but down from the average of 8.3 starters per race during the 1990s.

"Even though the major races during this meet were outstanding, we were plagued by short fields on many days," Baedeker said. "To do better -- and attract more horses -- we've got to make it more affordable to race in California."

Legislation introduced in the California legislature (Senate Bill 900) would lower the cost of workers' compensation insurance and would also provide a participation bonus of $400 for horses finishing worse than fourth (in Southern California), both viewed as positive steps toward retaining and attracting stables.

Patrick Valenzuela won the riding title 27 winners, becoming the first jockey to sweep the five major Southern California meetings since Chris McCarron in 1983.

Trainer Jeff Mullins won his first title at a major meet with 13 wins.