07/18/2011 2:46PM

Hollywood Park business slips


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Hollywood Park’s spring-summer meeting ended on Sunday with a decline in average all-sources handle of approximately 2.4 percent, the track’s president, Jack Liebau, said on Monday.

Liebau said that simulcasting in Southern California was down .8 of a percent, and that average out-of-state handle was down “5 to 6” percent. “We did really well in California, relatively speaking, he said.

Liebau said the figures are estimates and that more specific handle figures were being compiled this week.

Average ontrack attendance was down 10 percent, which he partially attributed to the absence of a big draw such as Zenyatta, who raced at the 2010 spring-summer meeting. “Last year, we had a big day on account of Zenyatta that we didn’t have this year,” he said.

Liebau confirmed that a retroactive purse payment of at least 7 percent will be paid to owners whose horses earned purses from April 23 to June 26. A 10-percent purse increase was enacted for the final three weeks of the meeting, from June 30. Business for the season was expected to be down, but was better than projections, Liebau said.

Sunday’s final program had an all-sources handle of $10,012,453, an increase of 2 percent from the $9,790,904 handle on the final day of the 2010 meeting despite there being one fewer race this year.

Field sizes remained steady, rising from 7.68 runners per race in 2010 to 7.69 this year. The track ran three fewer days this year, 57 to 54, but did not encounter any cancellations. Last year, three days of racing was lost because of insufficient entries on weekdays. “We held our own,” Liebau said.

Liebau credited the track’s racing secretary, Martin Panza, for keeping field size even with 2010. “There was all sort of trepidation and concern, not only with field size, but whether we’d be able to fill the 54 days we were scheduled to run,” he said. “The other unsung hero is [track superintendent] Dennis Moore, who gets accolades for our track. I continue to maintain we have the best track in Southern California.”

The meeting was the first in Southern California with a 50-cent pick five that had a 14 percent takeout. The bet outhandled the pick six on 31 days. The pick six, however, outhandled the pick five on 12 of the 13 days in which the pick six featured a carryover. The pick five had an average pool of $203,281, while the pick six, swelled by carryovers, had an average pool of $300,429.

Hollywood Park will have a six-week fall meeting in November and December, which is expected to begin on Nov. 10.