08/06/2014 1:58PM

Del Mar handle, attendance decline


DEL MAR, Calif. – Attendance and handle figures were lower after the third weekend of the Del Mar summer meeting when compared to the same period in 2013, according to data released by the track.

Through Sunday, the 14th day of the 36-day meeting, average ontrack attendance was down 5.3 percent, from 19,542 in 2013 to 18,513 this year.

The average ontrack handle of $2,308,311 was down 11.9 percent from the 2014 figure of $2,620,321 during the same time period. The average all-sources average handle, including simulcasting and account-wagering sources, was $12,422,653, a decline of 6.6 percent from an average of $13,299,344 last year.

Field size has averaged 9 runners per race compared to 8.55 runners per race during the same time period last year.

This year, the track opened on a Thursday, one day later than most recent years. To compare the two seasons, track officials eliminated attendance and handle figures from the second day of the 2013 meeting, a Thursday. The 2013 meeting covered 37 days of racing.

There are several reasons for the decline. Rare summer rainstorms fell on July 27 and last Saturday, which were certain to have affected ontrack business. In addition, there have been two interruptions to turf racing because of concern about the condition of the course.

Turf races draw fields of higher-class horses that frequently attract strong wagering pools. No turf racing was held July 27. Turf racing was canceled last weekend, from Friday through Sunday, and no turf racing was scheduled from Wednesday through Friday this week, after a horse was seriously injured July 31. Turf racing will resume Saturday.