05/05/2017 10:07PM

Handle flat, attendance down for Kentucky Oaks


Wagering on the Kentucky Oaks and its accompanying 13-race card at Churchill Downs in Louisville on Friday was down slightly despite chilly temperatures, intermittent rainfall, and a sharp drop in the ontrack crowd, according to charts and figures released by Churchill late on Friday.

Wagering on the Oaks, including all horizontal bets paying off on the race, was $14.80 million, down 1 percent from last year and down 1.7 percent from the record of $15.05 million set in 2015, according to charts of the races. The Oaks had a 14-horse field this year, the same as last year.

Wagering on the full card was $48.9 million, down a smidgen from the record handle of $49.0 million set last year. Both cards had 13 races.

Attendance was down 15.6 percent, from the record of 124,589 set last year to 105,100 this year, according to Churchill. Last year, the record was set under sunny skies and mild temperatures, while weather conditions Friday were the chilliest since 1940, with highs in the low 50s, overcast skies, and misting rain nearly all day.

Ontrack wagering was down 22 percent from last year at $9.3 million, according to Churchill. Ontrack wagering on the Oaks was down 21 percent, Churchill said, to $2.4 million.

For the past decade, Churchill has been aggressively promoting the Oaks card as part of a larger effort to capitalize on the popularity of the company’s Kentucky Derby, the most prominent race in the U.S. The effort has included multimillion-dollar renovations of Churchill’s seating areas and the implementation of focused marketing efforts promoting the cultural and social aspects of the Oaks and Derby.