07/16/2016 8:15AM

Attendance, handle rise on Del Mar's opening day

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Attendance and all-sources handle showed increases on Friday’s opening day of the Del Mar summer meeting compared to opening day on a Thursday in 2015.

Friday’s program drew 42,562 spectators, the 10th-largest crowd in track history, the track announced. Attendance rose 5.6 percent from 40,304 in 2015. The 2014 opening day, also on a Thursday, drew a crowd of 42,021. The record attendance of 47,339 was set on opening day in 2012, a Wednesday.

Friday’s all-sources handle, including simulcasting and account wagering, was $16,374,230, a gain of 6.7 percent over the 2015 figure of $15,339,177. All-sources handle on opening day in 2014 was $14.8 million.

“I thought it would be a bump,” track president Joe Harper said. “Fridays are better than Thursdays.

“I’m happy with the numbers. Anything that is up is good. It’s a great crowd. It’s young, and it’s happy. Opening day has a life of its own.”

Friday’s ontrack handle was $3,395,116, a decline of 13.7 percent from the $3,936,532 bet ontrack in 2015. Track officials said Friday’s all-sources handle had growth in account wagering. Details were not available early Friday evening.

This was the first opening day on a Friday for a summer meeting since 1970. This year’s opening was scheduled for Friday to allow another day of preparation to the racetrack and surrounding property following the conclusion of the San Diego County Fair on July 4.

The county fair always precedes the summer race meeting on the Del Mar fairgrounds, leading to a hectic turnaround before opening day.

Friday’s program was not without mishap. In the sixth race, the $20,000 claimer Presidential Air broke down badly in the stretch of a sprint for maidens. Presidential Air was euthanized, according to track stewards.

Jockey Brandon Boulanger was not injured in the incident. He did not have any mounts for the remainder of the program.

The 10-race program featured four turf races, including the Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds, won by the Kentucky shipper Monster Bea ($27.20).

The turf races were the first grass races in Southern California since June 19 at Santa Anita. The Santa Anita spring-summer meeting ended last Sunday. The track did not race on turf for the final three weeks of the meeting to begin a renovation of the course for its autumn meeting, which begins in late September.

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