08/18/2009 11:00PM

Del Mar ontrack averages rise

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Del Mar has shown significant gains in average attendance and handle through the first half of the Del Mar meeting, figures helped greatly by running one fewer day per week this year.

Through Sunday, the 20th of 37 days of racing, average attendance was up 11.8 percent, increasing from 16,645 in 2008 to 18,607 this year. Ontrack average handle was up 12.8 percent, rising to $2,389,811 this year, from $2,118,530, according to a statement released by the track.

This year, to boost Wednesdays, the track is offering free grandstand admission and discounted food items. Ontrack attendance on those days has risen 42 percent, while ontrack handle is up 30 percent.

Including simulcasting locations statewide and nationwide, and account-wagering sources, overall average handle has increased 0.2 percent over last year, the track stated.

Comparisons with 2008 are difficult since the track is not racing on Mondays this year, with the exception of the upcoming Labor Day program on Sept. 7. In past years, Monday programs were typically the weakest in attendance and handle. Monday racing was eliminated because fewer horses are in training in Southern California than in the past.