02/25/2016 5:08PM

January handle in California rises slightly


ARCADIA, Calif. - Handle at all California tracks rose 1.9 percent in January, to $273.7 million, according to figures announced at Thursday’s California Horse Racing Board meeting at Santa Anita.

There were gains in handle figures on the daytime Thoroughbred programs and Quarter Horse and Standardbred programs at night.

The growth occurred largely through account wagering which offset declines in ontrack business. Account wagering on all breeds grew by 5.1 percent, to $48.9 million. Ontrack handle declined 1.9 percent, to $29.6 million.

Handle on Thoroughbred races at Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita rose 2.09 percent, to $243.7 million. Those circuits had 19 racing days in 2015 and this year in January.

Handle on the nighttime programs rose 1.05 percent, to $30 million. There were 15 nights of night racing last month, one more than the corresponding period in 2015.

Stakes for Arabians at Santa Anita approved

The racing board approved a request from Santa Anita to host a $100,000 stakes for Arabians on April 2.

The race is sponsored by an organization from Abu Dhabi, which is making a $75,000 donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund in conjunction with the race.

Santa Anita is seeking legislation to allow wagering on the Arabian stakes, which will be similar to an event held in conjunction with the 2013 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. The legislation would allow as many as six races for Arabians to be held each year, provided they are not held when Arabian racing is being conducted during a fair meeting, or if approval has been granted by the fair meeting.

There was concern from racing board commissioners that an Arabian race would eliminate a potential race for Thoroughbreds, but Santa Anita officials indicated the race would be run in addition to the normally scheduled Thoroughbred races.

Could fantasy sports betting help racing?

Racing board chairman Chuck Winner urged racing and track officials to stay abreast of legislation that would permit betting on the Internet on poker or fantasy sports, stating that racing has a chance to gain financially from its implementation.

One Internet poker bill would dedicate a portion of revenue for racing, to tracks for commissions and to horsemen through purses. None of the legislation is nearing a vote in the near future, but could be heard during the current legislative session which ends in late summer.

“We have an enormous stake in this,” Winner said. “This is really critical to racing. The committee, the board and the staff should be on top of it as it moves. Even though it’s not our role, I would hope the various [racing] associations involved in the process would keep staff informed.

“We want to be helpful. There may be some ways we can be helpful.”

Faster processing of late bets

Curtis Linnell, a vice president of the security firm Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, told the racing board that racetracks have been working with tote companies to reduce the amount of time between the start of the race and the presentation of final win odds on tote boards and through television systems.

Linnell said a majority of the money placed in the last minute of wagering is presented within 10 seconds of the start of a race, with the final round of data compiled seconds later. He said full data is typically available within 30 seconds of the start of a race from the network of satellite and account wagering systems.

In Thursday’s second race at Santa Anita, there was $74,729 bet to win on a six-horse race. When the first horse entered the gate, the tote board indicated the pool was $50,453. The figure was $57,313 when the gate opened, and was $74,447 12 seconds after the start. The final pool was $74,729.