10/30/2017 2:16PM

Handle, attendance up at Santa Anita fall meet


ARCADIA, Calif. – Santa Anita showed growth in key attendance and handle categories at the autumn meeting that ended on Sunday, according to Nate Newby, the track’s vice president of marketing.

Newby said total all-sources handle at the 19-day meeting rose 8 percent compared with the 2015 autumn meeting. Ontrack handle improved 2 percent, while attendance grew 16 percent. The track did not release extensive attendance and handle data.

Newby said comparisons were done between the 2015 and 2017 meetings since the 2016 meeting at Santa Anita included the Breeders’ Cup races.

In 2015, the Breeders’ Cup races were run at Keeneland a week after the conclusion of the autumn meeting. The Breeders’ Cup races this year will be run at Del Mar on Friday and Saturday.

Newby said the jump in attendance was attributed to multiple weekend promotions and two massive infield parties for groups that drew larger crowds than previous years.

Business was helped by larger fields, which averaged 8.69 runners over 171 races. The 2015 meeting had average fields of 8.18 runners in 167 races. Last year, the autumn meeting had average fields of 8.59 runners in 206 races over 21 days.

This year, the final two days of the meeting were well supported with 11-race programs, one or two more races than most weekend racing days.

Earlier this year, field sizes were a major concern when the track eliminated four days of racing on Thursdays in April and June because of insufficient entries.

Apprentice jockey Evin Roman won the riding title with 19 wins, his fourth riding title on the circuit this year. Kent Desormeaux was second with 15 wins, six in stakes. Roman, 19, tied with Flavien Prat for the title at the spring-summer meeting and won titles at Los Alamitos in July and September. Roman began riding in California in February.

Richard Baltas and Peter Miller tied for the training title with 10 wins.

Mick and Wendy Ruis led all owners with $271,900 in earnings. They own Bolt d’Oro, the favorite for the BC Juvenile on Saturday.