Hollywood Park's Numbers Decline; Pincay Effect Cited

Edited press release from Hollywood Park
Hollywood Park, site of Laffit Pincay Jr.'s historic march to surpass Bill Shoemaker as racing's all-time leading jockey in 1999, felt the after-affects of the event at its 2000 autumn meeting.

The impact of Pincay's feat was evident as the 35-day meeting concluded Sunday. Business was down in 2000, although common pool handle was virtually even with the then-record $9.1 million daily average (non-Breeders' Cup meeting) in 1998.

Pincay's march to 8,834 victories gained worldwide attention in 1999, helping generate a daily average (common pool) of $9.6 million. The 2000 daily average of $9.1 million was off 5.5 percent, while the daily average attendance of 16,660 was down 7.5 percent. On-track, the average handle of $1.6 million was down 11 percent, while the average attendance of 6,880 was off 9.5 percent.

As Pincay closed in on Shoemaker's longstanding record of 8,833 wins in 1999, business was brisk. During the eight days preceding his record 8,834th win on Dec. 10, on-track attendance rose 17 percent, while on-track handle was up 22 percent. His historic win came on the 23rd day of a 31-day meeting.

"We expected to be soft compared to last fall's exceptional numbers," said Hollywood Park President Rick Baedeker. "Frankly, we're more concerned about the short fields and we will do everything within our power, and in conjunction with Santa Anita and Del Mar, to fix the problem."

With the exception of the Turf Festival, field size was a problem, slipping from 8.9 in 1999 to 7.6 in 2000. The 10th annual Turf Festival generated full fields, with two Eastern shippers and a first-time North American starter among the winners of the six graded races.

Victor Espinoza, who emerged as one of the nation's leading jockeys when he rode Early Pioneer to victory in the 2000 Sempra Energy Hollywood Gold Cup en route to his first major riding title at the spring/summer meeting, followed up by winning the autumn crown. He became the first jockey to sweep the titles since Alex Solis in 1996, holding defending champion Pincay and Solis at bay during the final week. He finished with 32 victories -- one more than the runners-up. Pincay, who is still going strong with his 54th birthday Dec. 29, now has 9,043 career victories. He finished the meeting with 194 wins for the year and he is on pace to reach 200 winners for the first time since 1991.

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel also swept the spring/summer and autumn meeting titles, the first conditioner to do so since Ron McAnally in 1994. Frankel saddled 14 winners -- two more than Vladimir Cerin.