Total Handle Up at Arlington, On-Track Stats Slip

Arlington Park's first meet to run through October produced mixed results. While the 101-day meet produced a new single-day record handle and a 10.4% increase in average daily total handle, the Chicago-area track also suffered double-digit losses in on-track handle and attendance.

The total all-sources handle increased to $360,622,482, up 8.2% from last year when a 103-day meet produced a total handle of $333,111,438. The average daily total handle was $3,570,520, up from $3,234,091 last year.

Arlington Million Day on Aug. 18 produced a record single-day handle of $14,519,027, the highest single-day total in Illinois racing history. More than $3 million of the day's handle was wagered on-track.

Not all the statistics were as rosy, however. Average daily on-track handle fell 11.8% to $562,421 from $637,667 a year ago, and average daily attendance dropped 12.2% to 5,890 from 6,709 during the 2000 meet.

"The significant increase in overall wagering is a testament to the improved quality of racing in Illinois during this year's Arlington meet," said Steve Sexton, Arlington Park's president. "Our business was very strong during the summer months with both our on-track attendance and handle up through Labor Day. Like many businesses and racetracks across the nation, our business declined precipitously following the national tragedy on Sept. 11."

The racetrack shifted its racing dates to end a month later so it could be considered as a host site for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Arlington Park has been tapped to hold the 2002 championship, but final approval pending until the Illinois Racing Board approves some rule changes and state provides financial support.