05/27/2016 12:30PM

Despite more racing, handle down in California

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Despite eight more racing cards, handle at California racetracks declined 1.56 percent through the first four months of the year compared to the same point last year, according to statistics announced at Thursday’s California Horse Racing Board meeting.

Those figures included betting at Thoroughbred meetings at Golden Gate Fields, Los Alamitos and Santa Anita, a night harness meeting at Sacramento, and the night Quarter Horse and lower-level Thoroughbred meeting at Los Alamitos.

Those tracks combined to produce handle of $978.3 million through April, compared to $994.4 million in the same period in 2015.

Handle at the daytime Thoroughbred meetings was down 2 percent compared to 2015, from $887 million to $868.7 million this year. Handle at the two night meetings showed an increase of 2.6 percent for the year, from $107.3 million in 2015 to $110.1 million this year.

There were five more day programs and three more night programs this year.

In April, combined handle for Thoroughbred meetings was down 6.9 percent, from $216.2 million last year to $201.2 million this year. Racing board executive director Rick Baedeker said that was caused by a change in the schedule. Los Alamitos operated a three-week Thoroughbred meeting in April and handled less than Santa Anita did in the corresponding period in 2015. Santa Anita will race during the first two weekends of July, when Los Alamitos held Thoroughbred meetings in 2014 and 2015.

For April, handle at all tracks fell 4.3 percent, from $242.1 million in 2015 to $231.5 million this year.