A crowd of more than 105,000 turned out for the Longines Kentucky Oaks May 5 at Churchill Downs

A crowd of more than 105,000 turned out for the Longines Kentucky Oaks May 5 at Churchill Downs

Coady Photography

Despite Wet Weather, Near-Record Handle for Oaks Day

Cold and wet weather impacted Kentucky Oaks day attendance.

A wet Kentucky Oaks Day with temperatures closer to winter than springtime led to declines in attendance and on-track handle at Churchill Downs.

But the figures released by Churchill Downs Inc. remained strong despite near-constant precipitation and what the track said was the coldest Oaks Day since 1940. The day's handle appeared to pick up much of what the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) lost in on-track business through off-track wagering channels.

All-sources wagering on the 13 races declined just $100,000 to $48.9 million from a record $49 million a year ago. The 2017 all-sources handle is second-highest in Oaks history.

Betting on the Kentucky Oaks itself fell to $14.9 million from $15 million a year ago.

On-track wagering fell 22% to $9.3 million from $11.98 million a year ago, while the track said on-track wagering on the Oaks race of $2.4 million was down 21% from $3 million a year ago.

Attendance fell 15.6% to 105,100 from last year's record 124,589. The attendance was the 11th largest in the event's history and was the smallest since 2009.

"Today's near-record handle numbers, despite the dismal weather conditions, shows that the Kentucky Oaks continues to grow and has established itself as one of the world's most popular events," said track president Kevin Flanery in a statement.

The National Weather Service at Louisville International Airport recorded an average temperature of 51 for the day, with a high of 55 and low of 47. Almost an inch of rain (0.93 inches) was recorded.

Flanery noted that fans enjoyed the track's latest round of improved facilities.

"Our guests were able to benefit from the most recent improvements we made inside the facility which focused on improving the guest experience, especially in light of the less than desirable weather conditions," Flanery said. "Special thanks to the team that worked all day to ensure the track was fair and safe for everyone."