07/19/2010 5:32PM

Average total handle drops at Hollywood meet


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – All-sources handle fell approximately 10 percent at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting that ended on Sunday compared with the 2009 meeting.

According to limited data released by the racetrack, handle on-track, at simulcast locations throughout the state and nation, and account wagering platforms combined to average $9,474,780, a decline of 10.3 percent from the 2009 total of $10,561,323.

The track did not announce average on-track attendance and handle figures. The decline in overall handle was close to expectations, according to the track’s president, Jack Liebau.

“We’ll be about where I thought we’d be, down [almost] 11 in all-sources handle,” Liebau said. “It’s certainly disappointing when you’re down. We had good racing, highlighted by the day Zenyatta ran.”

Zenyatta, the undefeated two-time champion, made one appearance at the meeting, winning her 17th race in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap on June 13. She was voted horse of the meeting.

The track ran 57 days, three fewer than scheduled because of insufficient entries on some weekdays. The programs of Wednesday, May 26, Thursday, June 17, and Thursday, July 8 were canceled. Field sizes were lower than the 2009 meeting, averaging 7.68 per race this year compared with 7.94 last year.

Hollywood Park will conduct a seven-week meeting this fall, and may run a four-day schedule during that season. The meeting will open with a Thursday night program, Nov. 4. A Thursday night program was offered on July 1 at this summer’s meeting.

Before the meeting started in April, Hollywood Park redirected some money from a marketing fund to enhance purses for lower-level claimers. Liebau said that program will continue in the autumn meeting.

“We have to maintain purse schedules that keep people in the game, and we’re dependent on those people to put on the show everyday,” Liebau said. “It’s nice to have the great stakes, but you need the undercard.”

Jockey Joel Rosario won the riding title for the second consecutive year. Rosario finished with 79 wins, four more than Rafael Bejarano.

Trainer Doug O’Neill won the training title with 28 wins, one more than Bob Baffert. O’Neill’s stable was inactive for two weeks in early July while he was suspended for a total carbon dioxide overage in Illinois earlier this year. For O’Neill, the title was his fifth at the spring-summer meeting since 2003.

La Canada Stables led owners with 16 wins, while Mace and Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable led owners with earnings, at $456,920.