Simulcasting Helps Stabilize Turf Paradise Numbers

Growth in simulcast wagering helped stabilize Turf Paradise's average daily handle and attendance even though the Phoenix area racetrack ran two more days than it did during its 2000-01 meet.

The track raced 167 days since the meet began Sept. 28, but average attendance slipped a mere 1.5% to 2,133 compared with 2,165 a year ago. Average daily on-track handle, which includes whole card simulcasting, was down less than half a percentage to $315,150, while the average in-state handle was off 1.7% to $776,324. Average total handle fell nearly 4% to $1,952,910, down from $2,032,139 a year ago.

Offering a better simulcasting product and nice place to watch the races was the key to keeping the statistics near the 2000-01 meet despite the additional days, according to Randy Fozzard, president and general manager of Turf Paradise.

"We have worked hard to improve what we're offering on-track" Fozzard said. "We don't steer customers toward a particular product, we just give them a wide variety and let them choose."

Two years ago the track spent $4.5 million adding 190 betting carrels, each with a 13-inch television, and about 500 more televisions to the simulcasting area.

Average daily purses dropped slightly because Turf Paradise ran six days a week, instead of the usual five days, for six weeks from January through mid February. The track added racing on Wednesdays at the request of California. Turf Paradise didn't handle enough additional wagers to offset the $500,000 in purses it paid, but Fozzard said it was good exposure for the track.