12/17/2012 1:43PM

Hollywood Park posts increases in handle, field size


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The fall meeting at Betfair Hollywood Park ended Sunday with gains in all-sources handle and a significant spike from account-wagering sources, according to track president Jack Liebau.

The track released limited data Sunday, the end of the 24-day meeting.

Liebau said that all-sources handle, including ontrack, simulcasting, and account-wagering sources, would finish higher by “8 or 9 percent.”

“That’s a victory in itself,” he said.

The track intended to incorporate handle from simulcasting revenue through Dec. 23 in its final figures, he said.

Liebau said that ontrack attendance was “better than even.” with last year. He said that account wagering, via telephone and Internet, had increased by 30 percent over the 2011 fall meeting.

While the track enjoyed gains in key business categories, it was unclear Sunday whether there would be another fall meeting at the venue. Hollywood Park has committed to racing through next summer and to stay open for training through August, but has not stated whether it will conduct a race meeting next fall.

There is a chance the property could be sold to real estate developers, which would lead to the cessation of racing.

The immediate future of the track will be better known in January when Hollywood Park officials are expected to announce to the California Horse Racing Board whether it will conduct an autumn meeting in 2013.

If not, the Southern California Thoroughbred racing calendar is expected to undergo massive changes, with Santa Anita taking a larger role and additional racing taking place at Los Alamitos or Fairplex Park.

Asked on Sunday about the prospects of racing beyond next summer, Liebau said, “At this point, I don’t know.”

Regarding this year’s fall meeting, Liebau credited part of the gains in account wagering to the track’s relationship with the TVG network, which extensively promotes Hollywood Park. Betfair is the parent company of TVG.

Average field size increased from 7.89 in 2011 to 8.16 this year.

The track recorded its second highest pool in the pick six when a three-day carryover of $560,134 led to a pool of $2,651,873 on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day. There was added interest in the Saturday pick six on a weekly basis through promotions with TVG and a car dealership owned by horse owner David Wilson. The pick-six pools averaged $243,754 on Saturdays.

“The pick six came back and everyone said it was dead,” Liebau said.

On the racetrack, Edwin Maldonado, 30, led all riders with 25 wins, one more than Rafael Bejarano. Maldonado also won the riding title at the Los Angeles County Fair at Fairplex Park in September.

Bob Baffert led all trainers with 17 wins, three more than John Sadler.

Among owners, there was a three-way tie for the most victories among Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Glen Hill Farm, and BG Stable and Hector Palma.

Game On Dude, winner of the $250,000 Native Diver Stakes earlier this month, was elected horse of the meeting.