12/14/2012 5:27PM

Hollywood Park: Field sizes rise


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The Hollywood Park fall meeting may end on Sunday with improvement in a key statistical category - average field size.

Through Thursday, the 21st day of the 24-day meeting, fields averaged 8.11 starters per race compared to 7.89 starters per race at the 26-day fall meeting in 2011.

Field sizes figure to be strong for the final week. There are 11 races on Sunday that drew 111 runners, though two are on the also-eligible list.

"Things flowed right at this meeting," Hollywood Park's racing secretary, Martin Panza, said on Friday."It's been one of the strongest meetings for this office's standpoint."

Panza said that between the backstretches of Hollywood Park and Santa Anita that he drew on a pool of 2,850 to 2,950 available horses. He said the Hollywood Park backstretch had about 1,400 horses, up from the 1,000 housed on the grounds at previous fall meetings.

Trainers who did not go to Del Mar last summer were based at Hollywood Park. Many kept their stables there this fall.

"We were open this summer and I think our track is the kindest track in California," he said. "I think it helps keep horses sound, and I think we're seeing this benefit now."

Panza said another factor in strong fields in recent days is the upcoming break between the two meetings.

"A nine-day break doesn't hurt," he said. "I imagine it will flow into Santa Anita. I would imagine with the break they will start off strong for the first few weeks."