01/17/2011 3:30PM

Exotic bets helping to boost Gulfstream business

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Business is booming at Gulfstream Park. Through the first two weeks of the meet, ontrack handle is up 26 percent, all-sources handle is up 21 percent, and attendance is up more than 50 percent over corresponding figures from a year ago. Sunday alone showed a whopping 75 percent increase in all-sources handle over the same date in 2010, when rain forced the races to be taken off the turf.

“Our business has been through the roof,” said vice president of racing Tim Ritvo. “Obviously we’ve been very fortunate with the weather and the racing has been great, with field sizes well above last year and above the national average.”

Fields have averaged 10 starters per race over the first 10 days of the meet as compared to 9.2 per race in 2010.

Ritvo credits the popularity of the pick five and the pick six for some of the increase. The minimum bet is 50 cents on the pick five, which is new this year, and 10 cents on the pick six. The pick six jackpot is paid out only when there is one winning ticket. If there is more than one winner, 60 percent of the pool is divided among the winners and 40 percent carries over to the next day.

“We’ve gotten positive feedback from a lot of our customers and it’s obvious from the size of both pools on a daily basis how well received these new wagers have been both ontrack and throughout simulcast land,” Ritvo said. “I believe the surprisingly large consolation payoffs has been a major factor in our increasing pick-six business, which only figures to get better as the jackpot grows.”

Pick five pools have ranged from $55,000 on opening day to $306,000 last Saturday when there was a $53,000 carryover. There have already been winning pick five payoffs of $37,499 and $22,832 during the first two weeks of the meet.

Interest in the pick six has grown from the $7,457 wagered opening day to the $70,723 added on Saturday. Consolation payoffs, based on 10-cent bets, have ranged from $284.33 to the $14,158 paid out to two winning ticketholders on Sunday.