The Woodlands, in Kansas City, Kansas, just completed its most successful meet in recent history. The track registered gains in live and off-track handle, as well as attendance, following its 30-day mixed meet which ran from Sept. 23 through Nov. 1. Most notable was the 178% jump in its off-track handle.
"We picked up quite a few outlets this year and our off-track (numbers) went way up," said general manager Jim Gartland, who has been at the track two years. "Last year was the first time the signal went out and this year we pursued (more) quite heavily this year and it went well."
Gartland estimated that in 2002, about 20 outlets took the Woodlands signal, and this year that it went to as many as 130 locations. Some of those destinations passed it along further to their off-track-betting locations, helping grow the numbers substantially. This year the meet's total handle was $5,909,516, up 103% from last year's $2,900,174. The off-track figure went from $1,455,687 in 2002, to $4,060,189 this year. The live handle also increased, going from $1,444,487, to $1,849,327, for a 28% jump. Attendance grew 21.5% to 42,294 patrons.
Beyond expanded simulcasting, Gartland said overall interest in the track has increased from trainers. This year they received 2,000 applications for the track's 1,200 stalls. Both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds share the backside, as well as each day's card of races, but typically seven of the 10 races every day are for Thoroughbreds. Gartland estimated that more than 70% of the horses stabled at Woodlands are Thoroughbreds.
"The time of the year we run is when numerous tracks in our region close, so we had trainers from Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, and Illinois," Gartland said. "We just had a heck of a lot of applications to choose from and we had a little better quality of horses this year. Overall the program has gotten a little bit better."