Handle, Attendance Declines at Oak Tree

Excluding the record-breaking handle figures for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships program, the Oak Tree Racing Association season concluded Nov. 9 with a slight decline in total handle and declines in on-track handle and on-track attendance.

"The figures we are releasing today include complete attendance and handle results (including Advance Deposit Wagering) for the meeting and exclude handle and attendance for Breeders' Cup Day," said Sherwood C. Chillingworth, executive vice president of Oak Tree. "The delay in releasing this information was to allow us time to gather complete financial data, which was complicated by Advance Deposit Wagering, the overlap of Opening Day with Fairplex Park and the exclusion of Breeders' Cup attendance and handle from the rest of the Oak Tree season."

Combined average daily handle from all sources (excluding Breeders' Cup Day) declined 0.8% for the Oak Tree meeting. Average daily handle from all sources was $9,631,159 versus $9,709,897 last year.

Average daily on-track handle for the 31 days of the Oak Tree meeting (not including Breeders' Cup Day) was down 3.1% compared to last season; handle at Southern California satellite wagering facilities declined 2.1% and out-of-state handle on Oak Tree races declined 5%.

Advance Deposit Wagering increased from an average daily total of $543,474 last year to $804,015 per race date this year, an increase of 47.9%.

On-track attendance (excluding Breeders' Cup Day) declined 9.2% from 9,813 per day last year to 8,913 per day this season.

"Although we started strongly, we were unable to overcome a barrage of unfortunate events that occurred in Southern California during our meeting and negatively impacted our on-track attendance and handle," said Chillingworth.

A transit strike left more than 400,000 daily bus and train riders without transportation; a series of wild fires that burned for nine days from San Diego to the Simi Valley displaced thousands of people and destroyed more than 3,400 homes and a supermarket strike idled more than 70,000 workers.

On-track average daily handle declined from $2,044,989 last year to $1,981,805 this season, while average daily handle at the Southern California satellite locations declined from $2,712,390 to $2,655,071 this season.

"We are disappointed that the success of Breeders' Cup Day did not carry over to the rest of our meeting," said Chillingworth. " We believe, however, that were it not for the strikes and fires, we would have seen much better results."