Portland Meadows Handle Highest in About 15 Years

Changes in first post time and fuller fields have produced pari-mutuel gains this season for Portland Meadows, which on Dec. 1 cleared the half-million-dollar mark in total handle for a program for the first time in 15 years.

The Monday program at the Oregon racetrack generated total handle of $521,222. For the 2003-2004 season, the track switched from Sunday afternoon racing to Monday afternoon because fewer tracks are open.

Portland Meadows officials said it is the most dramatic bump in handle on its live product since the early 1980s. The track is now operated by Magna Entertainment Corp.

"This is the new era in racing excitement we've been talking about," Portland Meadows general manager Jeff Grady said. "Since we made the switch to Monday afternoons, we have been very fortunate and extremely delighted with the results we've had thus far. Our numbers have reflected that, and it is our goal for this to be only the beginning of better things to come."

Grady said a switch in post time from 2:30 p.m. Pacific time to 1:35 p.m. helped boost handle because of fewer overlaps. On the East Coast, the first race at Portland Meadows on Mondays goes off at 4:35 p.m. during a period when most Thoroughbred tracks are completing their programs.

Portland Meadows also races Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 1:35 p.m. The meet runs though April 24, 2004.