Gulfstream: Total Handle Up, But Attendance Down

Gulfstream Park established a Florida record for pari-mutuel handle for a single race meet with $825.3 million wagered during its 89-day season in 2003, but attendance was down.

Even though Gulfstream raced one less day in 2003, handle was up 4.5% from the previous record of $789.6 million registered in 2002. Average daily total handle for the meet was $9.3 million, up 5.7% from 2002.

"The record was achieved despite a very weak economy, a below par tourist season and the adverse impact of the war," Gulfstream president and general manager Scott Savin said. "The negative factors affected on-track attendance, which was down from 2002. The new Palm Meadows Training Center enabled Gulfstream to present larger fields and higher-caliber racing. The record handle speaks well for Gulfstream's initiatives."

Total attendance for the 2003 meet was 759,861, a decrease of 9.5% from last year. Gulfstream's daily average on-track attendance was 8,538, down 8.5% from 2002.

Horses that trained at Palm Meadows, a facility built by Gulfstream parent Magna Entertainment Corp. in Boynton Beach, won 211 races at the meet. They also posted 184 seconds and 135 thirds.