04/09/2014 3:38PM

Fair Grounds all-sources average daily handle down 12 percent


Betting on races at the 2013–14 Fair Grounds meeting that ended March 30 declined by more than 12 percent from the 2012–13 season. A disappointing final tally came as no surprise since Fair Grounds twice had to cut purses during the racing season to keep from overpaying purses.

Average daily all-sources handle during the 83-day meet that began Nov. 22 was $2,338,078, according to handle figures provided by the Louisiana State Racing Commission, since Fair Grounds, per a policy set by parent company Churchill Downs Inc., does not publicly disseminate handle information. Average daily handle during the 2012–13 season, also 83 days, was $2,677,038.

The decline equates to a loss of more than $28 million in gross handle on Fair Grounds races, and the numbers are even starker going back two racing seasons. Average daily all-sources handle during the 2011-12 meeting was more than $2.9 million, meaning Fair Grounds’s handle has fallen by almost one-fifth in two years. Almost $50 million less was bet on races at the New Orleans track this meet than during the 2011-12 season.

The pace of the handle decline increased as the 2012-13 meet went on, but betting was down early this season, and in January, Fair Grounds announced it was eliminating four stakes and cutting the purses of 12 others. But though that move saved the purse account $785,000, overnight purses still had to be trimmed by 10 percent in late February for the track to hold its bottom line.

Corresponding with the decline in betting is a drop in the number of starters per race at the Fair Grounds meet: The track averaged 8.48 starters in 2011-12, 8.2 in 2012-13, but just 7.88 starters this season, and only 7.66 in dirt races. Favorites won at a robust 37 percent rate this meet, though that was down from 41 percent during 2012-13.

The turf course, the subject of offseason renovation, came under criticism for failing to properly drain during the first half of the meet, and during one December program on a sunny day, riders asked that turf races be moved to the main track because horses were sliding over slick grass on the course’s turns. But as the weather warmed, the course began draining more efficiently, and by meet’s end, 149 grass races had been contested, not far off the 166 turf-race average over the previous six seasons. Still, Fair Grounds and CDI are facing pressure from the Louisiana legislature to improve the grass course and make other capital investments in racing, and according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, there are three bills circulating in the legislature that would compel the track to act.

Rosie Napravnik won her fourth straight Fair Grounds riding title, besting James Graham 114-105. Steve Asmussen won 60 races to capture the trainers’ title, and Maggi Moss was the meet’s leading owner for the fourth year in a row.

JAHMAN More than 1 year ago
Corporate America at is best. Now they are implementing a higher takeout at Churchill this year I will wager one race at heir greed laden track this year and boycott every other race meet long
Andy More than 1 year ago
And as I understand, CD is losing nearly $1.5 mil per day on lost wagers due to the higher takeouts. Use to be one of my favorite tracks to play. Bummer.
Rocco B More than 1 year ago
State Bred races are not good for a sport that depends on national wagering. If you must, run a card for state-breds once in a while but don't throw them at us everyday or we just won't play.
Sandi York More than 1 year ago
OK I couldn't wait for feedback and googled the Board of Directors. A R. Allen Rankin sits in some capacity. He is the President of Upsom Farms, other than that I can't see that anybody else has a firsthand knowledge of the game. Talk about "out of touch"!!!
Tex Ranger More than 1 year ago
Not sure about Golden Gate, but looked today and they have short fields and (7) races only plus 3 Maiden races. Who wants to play that! Dismal to be sure. Second rate horses at many tracks including Calder. I mean you get like 3 races out of 9 or 10 that are 4, 5 and 6 year old horses (none winners of two races). How can you choose from a races of so many losers.
Andy More than 1 year ago
GG has sadly turned into a joke. Owners got tired of being strung along by trainers wanting training/stabling fees when their horses are injured and never run again, contrary to what a trainer will tell the owner that it will run around so and so time. And if you have a good claiming horse, Hollendorfer will claim it. Only thing worth anything is the early pick 5 even with the short fields, take out the 1/9 -4/5's and it pays decent to pretty good. GG and greed by some made their own mess.
Sandi York More than 1 year ago
I'll bet that no one on the Board of Directors of CDI cares about the horse racing industry. I used to know a few of the names 20 or so years ago, can anyone enlighten me?
Russ More than 1 year ago
An exact snapshot of what happens when large corporations are allowed to go amok. The shareholders accumulate large chunks of wealth and the business plummets down the drain over a period of time. We see it all over America in all industries. State legislatures are the only hope to try to get these giants corporations to conduct business in a fair and proper manner.
Lew Gelbman More than 1 year ago
it's time for these tracks to realize giving patrons a substandard product is going to results in losing business. Their meet was pretty dismal
mikey More than 1 year ago
Maybe the lowest meet of a so called major track.Rain bad turf course and a bunch of L.A. breds.This place makes the BIG A look good.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
"To keep from overpaying purses"... It's the bean counters run amok.
lserpFL More than 1 year ago
Best & only course of action is to have Tom Benson Saints owner to buy the track & restore it to the winter paradise it once was