Total Handle Record Set by Stockton Fair

The total amount of money wagered on races at the recently concluded 10-day San Joaquin County Fair meet at Stockton, Calif. increased 10% to a record $16.95 million, officials reported.

The figure includes the amount of money wagered on live and imported races on track, in the Northern California off-track network, and through advanced deposit wagering. The record set in 2000 was $15.4 million.

A total of $2.29 million was wagered on live and imported races on track, an increase of 1% from the 2002 meet. On track attendance increased by 1% to an average of 4,508 fans per day, highlighted by a closing day crowd of 7,318 fans.

Executives at San Joaquin Fair and the California Authority of Racing Fairs cited full fields, continuing improvements in the racing surface and an increase in promotional efforts for the gains.

"We've been lucky. The weather has been great, our purse structure is sound, and most importantly, the horsemen have supported the fair and filled the races," said Forrest White, C.E.O. of the San Joaquin Fair.

The average Thoroughbred field size increased from 7.52 horses per race in 2002 to 8.26 in 2003. The San Joaquin Fair was also able to increase the number of Thoroughbred races run from 66 in 2002 to 74 in 2003. The increase can be attributed to recruiting Arizona horsemen and concerted effort to improve racetrack maintenance and safety.

"Racing at San Joaquin Fair dates back to 1860," noted CARF executive director Christopher Korby. "We're working hard to support the long tradition of racing at California fairs through on-going improvement programs that will help assure the vitality of fair racing for a long time to come. We're especially proud of our racetrack safety and maintenance program, run by Steve Wood, one of the best in the business."

The San Joaquin Fair also increased promotional efforts with tie-ins to the major motion-picture Seabiscuit, by including a photo of Seabiscuit and his first foals on the program cover and conducting a Seabiscuit bobblehead giveaway to the first 2,000 entrants of a special promotion.