09/17/2012 5:36PM

Fairplex Park: Crowds down, but overall handle up

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POMONA, Calif. – Attendance is down at Fairplex Park. Blame the heat wave. Handle is up at Fairplex. Credit the carryovers.
The 13-day race meet at the Los Angeles County Fair passed the halfway point Saturday, and while triple-digit weekend temperatures contributed to a 20 percent decline in attendance, bettors continue to send it in, particularly from out of state.

Handle for the meet is up 3.98 percent over the corresponding 2011 dates, to a daily average of more than $5.2 million. While a three-day pick-six carryover into Sept. 12 helped fuel the handle increase, Fairplex’s general manager, Kim Lloyd, believes other factors are at play.

“Obviously, carryovers didn’t hurt at all, but we were up a little bit before the carryover came in,” Lloyd said. “One thing is that Martin [Pedroza] is not running away from the field, and it’s making more competitive racing. I still think Martin will win the title, but it makes it more compelling for the bettors.”

An out-of-state handle increase of 14.9 percent has offset the ontrack handle decline of 9.5 percent and an intertrack handle decline of 3.2 percent. Meanwhile, the win rate of favorites the first two weeks was only 26 percent (21 of 80) in Thoroughbred races.