01/27/2015 3:09PM

Handle rises at Fair Grounds meet


After a year-over-year dip in November, all-sources average daily handle at Fair Grounds rebounded nicely in December and as of Jan. 1 was up 5 percent compared with a similar period in 2013.

For the 24 cards during November and December at this meet, Fair Grounds averaged $2,379,516 from all betting sources on its live product. The 25 November and December cards in 2013 produced an average daily handle of $2,261,990.

All figures were provided by the Louisiana Racing Commission. Fair Grounds, per the policy of its parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., does not publish handle figures, but tracks are required to provide their financials to regulatory bodies like the LRC.

This season’s meet got off to a slow start, with betting down about 15 percent during November, but that trend reversed in December, when all-sources average daily handle rose from $2,248,938 in 2013 to $2,549,124.

The improved condition of the grass course might be positively affecting handle. Fair Grounds performed offseason renovation to the course’s drainage system, and the surface has retained far less moisture than at last meet. Between Nov. 22, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2013, there were 35 grass races; at this meet, between opening day Nov. 21 and Dec. 31, Fair Grounds had 54 grass races.

Field size during the period in question is up slightly, from 8.24 starters per race last season to 8.34.