Calder Posts Gains in Attendance, Handle

Calder Race Course concluded its 119-day meet with gains in attendance and total handle.

Quality racing and strong interest in the South Florida racetrack's marquee event the Festival of the Sun and its second annual Summit of Speed were credited with increasing total attendance by 2.4% to 591,039 and raising total handle by 3% to $631,641,042. Because the meet offered three less days than last year, total on-track handle slipped slightly to $50,534,300. The fewer days, however, caused a rise in average daily on-track handle to $424,657 from $424,146 a year ago.

"Good racing and special events...sustained the momentum to help us generate these results," said Calder's president Ken Dunn. "We're very pleased."

The Festival of the Sun and the Summit of Speed both experienced increases in attendance. The Festival of the Sun attracted 14,200, an increase of 11% over last year's crowd of 12,796, while the Summit of Speed drew 9,838 to the racetrack compared with 9,083 in 2000. The Festival also set an all-time record when the combined mutuel handle reached $8,878,346. The previous record set in December 1995 during the Tropical-at-Calder meet was $8,479,712.

An average daily purse distribution of $203,000 was the highest in the track's 31-year history. The distribution includes overnight purses, Florida owners' awards, Florida-bred bonuses, and stakes purses. Last year, Calder distributed an average $195,400.

Bill White was the meet's leading trainer. He won his fifth consecutive training title and his sixth overall, which is Calder record. The Illinois native had 52 winners out of 244 starts. His horses finished in the money in 55% of his races.

Leading owner for the third consecutive year was Frank and Joanne Bertolino's Monarch Stable. The Bertolinos won 30 races in 123 starts.

Cornelio Velasquez was the meet's leading jockey with 144 wins in 707 starts.