11/04/2016 9:13PM

Handle on Breeders' Cup Friday races up 5.2 percent

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Total handle on the four Breeders’ Cup races held Friday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., was up 5.2 percent despite a significant drop in the number of runners in the races, according to charts.

Total handle on the Juvenile Turf, Dirt Mile, Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the headline race, the Distaff, was $30.5 million, according to the charts, up 5.2 percent compared with the same four races held last year on the Friday card at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. Total runners in the four races this year was 43, while last year’s four races had 53.

Considering the 19 percent drop in runners, the increase was an indication of strong interest in the four races, especially considering that the Distaff had only eight runners this year, compared with 14 last year. This year’s Distaff, which featured three champions, drew $3.44 million in win, place, and show wagers, up 20.5 percent from last year, but wagering in the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta pools were down considerably, declining 16 percent, 10.5 percent, and 8.7 percent.

In total, the Distaff, including all horizontal bets ending in the race, had wagering of $12.08 million this year, up 7.1 percent over $11.27 million on the same race last year.

Wagering on the late pick four was $3.08 million, up 17.2 percent over last year and the largest betting pool on the card. Wagering on the pick six was $726,517, down 6 percent. No one correctly selected all six winners, and a $511,000 carryover will be attached to the all-Breeders’ Cup pick 6 on Saturday.

The weather conditions on Friday were ideal, with fast and firm turf. Santa Anita announced attendance of 45,763, a record for a Friday card. Last year, Keeneland announced attendance of 44,947, but that figure included approximately 10,000 people who were on the track’s campus in a tailgate area and did not have access to the grandstand.

Santa Anita has hosted the Breeders’ Cup six times since the event was expanded to two days in 2007. The previous high for a Friday attendance at the track was 37,651, set in 2009. The Friday attendance when the track last hosted the event, in 2014, was 37,205.

Total betting for the 10-race card at Santa Anita was $50.94 million, according to the track, up 13 percent over the $44.95 million in handle on the 10-race Friday Breeders’ Cup card at last year’s event at Keeneland.