Fresh off one of the best opening days at Portland Meadows Racetrack in years, the initial response in switching from Sunday to Monday afternoon racing has been solid. Handle increased 54% from last year at this time when $176,080 was wagered on Monday's nine-race card. With $129,151 coming in from simulcast locations across the country, the early figures show that money from newly acquired simulcast markets is the cause for the increase."This is a new era for racing excitement in Portland," general manager Jeff Grady said. "We decided to offer Monday afternoon racing with a 2:30 p.m. (west coast) post to be more enticing to our additional simulcast outlets. At 5:30 p.m. on the east coast there is a lull in Thoroughbred racing and it's the perfect opportunity for us to increase handle. I am very excited and encouraged by today's performance."On the first Sunday of the meet last year, Portland Meadows handled $113,790 in 11 races.Portland Meadows traditionally raced Friday thorugh Sunday, Its new racing schedule is Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Monday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.A crowd of 2,231 attended turned out at Portland Meadows for the opening of the track's 53rd season Friday. It was the largest opening day crowd in seven years.The total handle Friday was $120,913, a marginal increase over 2002.
"We are committed to making Portland Meadows a more family oriented, fan friendly racetrack," said Grady. "With the face lift Portland Meadows has had during the off season, the addition of our new park and the children's play area, we are going the extra mile in making racing fun for every one, regardless of age. There was an extraordinary feeling at this racetrack this afternoon and it was evidence that the folks of Portland are as excited as we are. We are in a new era of racing excitement."