08/22/2016 9:40AM

Del Mar sets handle record on Pacific Classic Day

Shigeki Kikkawa
More than 24,000 people came to Del Mar to watch California Chrome win the Pacific Classic.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Del Mar set a single-day track record of $25,060,204 for all-sources handle on Saturday’s Pacific Classic Day program, a boost to a summer meeting that has had a decline in business compared with 2015.

Saturday’s handle figure for the 11-race card included ontrack, satellite, and account-wagering sources. It surpassed the previous track record of $24,667,351 set on Pacific Classic Day in 2007.

Through Saturday, all-sources handle for the meeting was down 2.8 percent from a similar period in 2015, according to track chief operating officer Josh Rubinstein. Through Aug. 14, all-sources handle was down 4 percent, Rubinstein said.

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On Aug. 13, officials announced that overnight purses would be reduced by approximately 5 percent for the final two weeks of the meeting, beginning with Wednesday’s races. The meeting concludes Sept. 5.

Saturday’s attendance was 24,155, compared with 20,424 for the 2015 Pacific Classic program, also run on a Saturday. Pacific Classic Day last year drew the smallest crowd for the biggest day of the meet since the race was first run in 1991. The 2014 Pacific Classic drew 28,290 on a Sunday.

Rubinstein said Saturday’s business was encouraging since the program “was all about racing.”

“We didn’t attach a giveaway or a concert,” he said. “In years past, we’ve done that.

“We sold every seat and every table and every box. They were here, and they were here early.”

Saturday’s program had a track-record 50-cent pick-four pool of $1,443,421, beating the previous mark of $1,310,045 set on Pacific Classic Day in 2015.

Rubinstein said there is hope that the handle deficit can be further reduced.

“A lot of it depends on field size,” he said. “We’re coming back a little bit. This will be the last time for guys to run on turf for three weeks.”

There is no turf racing during the three-week Los Alamitos September meeting.

Through Saturday, fields at Del Mar have averaged 8.15 runners per race, compared with 8.73 runners during a similar time frame in 2015. The entire 2015 summer meeting averaged 8.79 runners.

Rubinstein said a contributing factor to the smaller fields was an illness that hit the barn area in July, reducing the number of available runners.

◗ The 50-cent Saratoga-Del Mar all-stakes pick four returned $22.95 on Saturday. The pick four combined two Grade 1 races from Saratoga and two graded stakes from Del Mar.

The winners were Tourist ($7.40) in the Fourstardave Stakes, Songbird ($2.40) in the Alabama Stakes, Ashleyluvssugar ($7) in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap and California Chrome ($4.20) in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. Tourist was the second choice, while the other runners were favored.

The all-stakes pick four handled $618,380.