10/01/2012 5:19PM

Arlington Park: All-sources handle rises 6 percent, Illinois commission reports

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Driven by a 9 percent increase in out-of-state betting on its live races, Arlington Park ended its 2012 meet Sunday with a solid overall gain in average daily handle compared with the 2011 season.

All-sources average daily handle during the May 4-Sept. 30 meet was $3,201,354, up 6 percent from $3,007,458 in 2011 at the suburban Chicago track, according to the Illinois Racing Board. Churchill Downs Inc., Arlington’s parent company, does not announce handle figures. The 2012 daily average includes 89 full days, but excludes one card that was only partly completed because of bad weather. Gross handle for those 89 days was $284,920,506. That number is substantially higher than in 2011, when Arlington raced 85 days.

The out-of-state bump, from a daily average of $2,291,672 in 2011 to $2,488,440 this year, marks the second straight year that out-of-state handle increased. Ontrack betting on Arlington’s races dropped 4 percent, from $417,678 in 2011 to $399,409.

Average field size was 8.2 starters per race, a tiny drop from 8.3 in 2011. Arlington raced its entire 2012 season with purses boosted by casino impact-fee funds that became available in August 2011, thus affecting only the last 1 1/2 months of the 2011 meeting. The racing office struggled during several periods to attract entries, particularly for races on Polytrack. Arlington ran a record 319 turf races in 2012, up from 274 in 2011.

The meet got off to a rocky start because of a contractual dispute between the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Arlington. Many horsemen declined to enter during opening weekend.

That Wayne Catalano topped the trainer standings with 63 winners came as no surprise: The title was Catalano’s 10th at Arlington, though Chris Block’s barn led the meeting in purses won. But Cisco Torres winning his first Arlington jockey’s crown came totally out of the blue. Torres hadn’t ridden regularly at Arlington for years, and he led the standings most of the meet, beating out 2011 riding champ James Graham, 100-90. Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds led all owners with 26 wins.

Josh More than 1 year ago
Don't have a drink to celebrate Cisco!
The_Whiz More than 1 year ago
How about some recognition for the man who put Torres on those 100 winners - Allan Plever. He took at best a reclamation project in the spring at Hawthorne and won the riding title there and came to Arlington and perservered and won that riding title - let's give credit to the agent. He most certainly deserves it.
James Ryan More than 1 year ago
I save my track visitations to two trips to Keeneland each year rather then drive 10 miles to Arlington. Bad over priced food, crude or indifferent ticket sellers, poor fields and a place that seems to be interested in providing services to the well-to-do in their first class areas leaves me cold. One day in Lexington is worth a year at Arlington.
Jim Dettmann More than 1 year ago
!.) Bring your own food. Arlington allows carry-ins. 2.) Avoid the tellers. Use the tote machines. 3.) Write your governor and tell him to pass the Casino/Slot Machine bill. That will increase purses and attract larger fields.
Jake More than 1 year ago
"The racing office struggled during several periods to attract entries, particularly for races on Polytrack." Think anyone in charge of Arlington noticed? Or even cares? I do... and that's why I took my wagering dollar somewhere else. Beautiful facility, but the product they offer does not interest me anymore. Too bad old man Duchossois doesn't care.
Jim Dettmann More than 1 year ago
Dick D. really doesn't have much say about what happens at Arlington. After the fire, he brought the track back. Then CDI took over. Have you noticed that there have been no positive changes at Arlington since CD took over? Admission has gone up to $8 (funny, admission at Churchill Downs is only $3), free seating has been reduced, next year fans will be charged for carry-ins. About Polytrack, I see nothing wrong.with it. There's nothing worse than trying to handicap races on a sloppy track. Not to mention that it's dangerous for horses and jockeys. And trainers just scratch out when the track is sloppy. That leaves a lot of short fields.