05/26/2011 2:49PM

Arapahoe: Phone betting one of many positives as meet begins


Arapahoe Park has a good deal of momentum heading into its 39-date mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses that opens on Saturday. The Aurora, Colo., track, which will race through Aug. 21, was able to introduce phone betting last September.

The additional stream of revenue came on board a month after Arapahoe wrapped up a highly satisfying meet in which it experienced a double-digit jump in handle. Those numbers were fueled by large fields, said Bill Powers, the plant manager at Arapahoe who is looking forward to 2011.

“Our meet was so good last year, it’s really carried over to this year,” he said. “Entries are going good, and we’ve got horses still coming this way. It’s the most horses I’ve ever had. We have 1,300 to 1,350 stalls, and we’re going to fill them. And all our Quarter Horse futurities and derbies had more nominations than ever. It’s an awful good position to be in.”

Powers said Arapahoe averaged more than nine horses per race last meet, which helped lift handle on the live product 50 percent, to an average of $130,000 a day. Following the meet, phone betting became an option for residents of Colorado.

“We got that started and it’s going full flame now,” said Powers. “It’s doing well.”

Powers said purses this meet are projected to average $110,000 a day. Highlights of the stakes schedule include the Gold Rush Futurity, a six-furlong race for 2-year-olds that will be run Aug. 21. The race’s purse was boosted from $40,000 to $100,000 late last meet because of the increase in handle and it will remain at $100,000 this year, said Powers.

“It’s already got a lot of interest,” Powers said of the Gold Rush.

The premiere race for Quarter Horses is the Grade 2, $150,000 Mile High Futurity on Aug.  21. Both that race and the Gold Rush will be carried live on TVG, said Powers.

Jonathan Horowitz, 26, is the new announcer at Arapahoe. He takes over the microphone from Craig Braddick, who was expected to be the announcer at the Yavapai Downs meet in Arizona that was canceled Wednesday.

“I believe Jonathan was the youngest person to ever call a horse race,” said Powers, noting Horowitz was 14 when he called a race at Los Alamitos. “He’s got an extensive r è sum é .”

The high percentage trainers Butch Gleason and Brad Bolen are both back for the new meet, while Arapahoe is also drawing several new stables from Arizona.