10/25/2014 6:48PM

Keeneland all-sources handle drops 12 percent at fall meet

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Keeneland wrapped up the first meet on its new dirt track Saturday with solid reviews from horsemen and a fair safety record – though the meet did post decreases in field size, handle, and attendance.

Keeneland removed its Polytrack main track surface – which debuted in fall 2006 – over the summer, replacing it with conventional dirt in time for the 17-day fall meeting that began Oct. 3.

The new track got a trial by fire – or rather, by water – to start its first meet. According to local weather reports, 3.72 inches of rain fell in Lexington from Oct. 3 through Oct. 20, with precipitation falling on 14 of those days. Drier weather only prevailed in the final four days of the meet.

“We thought we were living in Seattle the first 10 days,” said Keeneland vice president of racing W.B. Rogers Beasley. “There was not a day in the first 10 days when we didn’t have rain at least in the morning.”

Beasley also complimented the work done under the conditions by track superintendant Javier Barajas.

“Missed the synthetic track at Keeneland this meet, but very impressed with new dirt surface that handled some very wet days remarkably well,” Graham Motion, who tied for the meet’s training title, posted on his Twitter account Saturday evening.

Two horses suffered fatal injuries in races over the new track, both juveniles in the waning days of the meet - Burden on Wednesday and Shoe Jo on Friday. There was one racing-related fatality on Polytrack in 2013, Keeneland’s final full year on the surface.

Ontrack wagering totaled $17,625,834, a 3 percent drop from $18,173,355 during last year’s fall meet. The average daily ontrack handle was $1,036,814, also down 3 percent from $1,069,021 in 2013. All-sources wagering totaled $122,844,887, down 12 percent from $139,660,179 during the 2013 fall meet.

The average field size was 8.42 starters, down from 9.89 last year, a 15 percent difference.

“If you look at the figures across the nation, they’re down everywhere,” Beasley said. “They’re down at Belmont – handle is – they’re down at Santa Anita. I think that’s part of the national trend, to a degree.”

The new track and the weather may have played a role in those figures. During the meet, there were fewer shippers in from Woodbine and Presque Isle – tracks with synthetic surfaces which consistently supported Keeneland Polytrack racing. The wet weather also led to more races being taken off turf, and more scratches in the main-track races.

“The field size, we anticipated would be down,” Beasley said. “When the decision was made to switch from Polytrack to dirt, one of the minuses was going to be [it would affect] field size. … So that affects handle, as well.”

Ontrack attendance during the meet totaled 251,574, a 5.6 percent drop from the fall record of 266,466 established last year. The average daily attendance was 14,798, down 6 percent from last fall’s 15,674. In addition to the poor weather, a resurgent University of Kentucky football program also may have negatively impacted attendance. The Wildcats played home games on three of the four Saturdays of the meet, including a 3:30 p.m. contest versus top-ranked Mississippi State on closing day.

Rosie Napravnik, who piloted 16 winners, held off Corey Lanerie (15) and Julien Leparoux (14) to secure her second straight Keeneland fall meet riding title.

Motion and Todd Pletcher tied for the trainer title with eight wins apiece. It was the first meet title at any track for Motion. Pletcher was twice leading trainer at Keeneland’s spring meet.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey led the fall owner standings with nine winners, securing their third consecutive fall meet title. They have won or shared 14 Keeneland meet titles overall.

 

Salvatore Agro More than 1 year ago
Why doesnt that stupid jerk Byk and his equally stupid buddy Haskin get it?
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
All the horses that would ship in to run on the Poly from Woodbine alone is drastically reduced. never mind the Arlington horses and horses who shipped in from other Synthetic tracks.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Reasons.....people don't trust the product too many dubious rides..too much medication...merry go round racing.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Before everyone starts playing taps for Kee, let's take into consideration that so many tracks have experienced field decreases. It's a sign of the times & climate of the sport. Kee just fell victim to it like the other tracks. Their dirt surface was tremendous & many horsemen applauded it during the meet. Looking forward to the Kee Spring Meet
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
I got a -8 on my comment that weather in oct would hurt this meet because off turf races and sloppy track scratches would turn even the biggest bettors away. sure enough..... I was told handle will rise with the return to dirt. Cue the apologies and here is my "told ya so". Poly track was the only thing that kept Keeneland from bucking the national trend.
1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
so I'm watching the WSOP last night...... What do you have at the tracks these days? With the exception of Triple Crown races and the Breeders Cup, the atmosphere around your nearest track is more like a morgue than a party. People my age (>60) are old....and we certainly don't add anything to the (needed) electricity that makes big race days so much fun. BTW, do you ever think that Keeneland is trying to demonstrate its' true feeling about the average horseplayer when they limit BC attendance to 28,000? Rarified air, indeed.
TRacingLifeMore More than 1 year ago
It would have been more fun with a speed or closer bias the entire meet. I never tried Keeneland during the former dirt era, but it must have been easy to pick winners if inside speed was as great as I read. For this meet, it played fair and the fields were pretty evenly matched, a handicapper's nightmare.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
are you kidding...merry go round as prevalent as ever.
Pat More than 1 year ago
I quote Mr. Beasley "Look at the figures across the nation, they're down everywhere.....I think it's part of a national trend". Aren't these the same things that were being spun during the economic downturn of 2007-2012? What's the reason now? I have a couple of suggestions: 1: racing fans are sick and tired of all the b/s and have either quit the game completely or have drastically cut back. 2. racing has failed (and continues to fail) miserably in trying to attract a new, younger, affluent fan base. 3: field sizes are ridiculously small and yet no one is willing to cut back the number of races being run. 4. the steady horseplayer is now dying off and there's no one to replace them. 5. racing as an institution is slowly twisting in the wind, dying before our eyes, being kept alive by casino revenues to purses. The sad part is none of this is new, it's been the subject of concerned conversation for years, and yet, no one associated with racing seems to recognize the seriousness of the problem. But, I guess, as long as there is casino money to artificially support purses, all will continue as is.....until no one cares what happens to racing and it's considered an "oddity" like roller derby or wrestling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yet but it aint dead yet. Gotta keep our grip on the throat!
Shawn Britton More than 1 year ago
Anonymous =disturbed troll
Jeff Wilson More than 1 year ago
Some of us wish you would go away!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...and it will post another 12% loss the next time they have a meet. And another... Etc