06/22/2016 2:46PM

Arlington hoping summer brings uptick in business


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Arlington already has canceled two stakes races and reduced the purses of three others at this meet to compensate for lower-than-hoped betting handle, and the Chicago-area track must hope it can recover from continued disappointing business figures if it is to avoid further cuts this summer.

All-sources average daily handle is down 13 percent through last Saturday compared with a similar period during the 2015 season, dropping from $1,701,697 to $1,475,743, according to information provided by the Illinois Racing Board. Out-of-state handle on Arlington’s races has declined even more precipitously, the daily average dropping 18 percent from the same period one year ago. Ontrack handle is the lone bright spot, up 14 percent, but the daily average in that area still is just $325,796.

“We’re trying to put our finger on why that’s occurring in the all-sources,” said general manager Tony Petrillo. “We were up over the weekend, when we had larger field sizes and higher-quality races, less scratches. If we continue to trend up, any risk of a purse cut becomes diminished. We usually pick up in the months of June and July. Now through the Million is the strength of our wagering.”

Arlington has raced only three days per week since the meet began May 6. Four-day race weeks begin in July, and the Arlington Million card is Aug. 13. Arlington through Sunday was averaging 7.70 starters per race, which is competitive with other tracks in the region.