10/27/2008 12:00AM

Keeneland betting takes a 17% hit


All-sources wagering was down more than 17 percent from corresponding 2007 dates at the 17-day fall meet that ended Saturday at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. Total wagering was more than $115.6 million, down substantially from the nearly $140 million wagered last fall.

The downward trend follows similarly disappointing results from the Keeneland spring meet, where average daily all-sources handle was down 11 percent from the prior year. Likewise, business at the fall meet was similar to other major North American tracks that have shown double-digit declines this year, including Saratoga, Del Mar, Churchill Downs, and Arlington Park.

Ontrack wagering also was down at the fall meet, which began Oct. 3, declining nearly 8 percent from last fall, when 17 days also were run. Gross ontrack wagering was $25.2 million, down from the $27.4 million bet last fall. All ontrack figures include imported simulcasts.

Ontrack attendance grossed 239,117 and averaged 14,066, nearly keeping pace with the fall-meet record totals of 239,296 and 14,076, respectively, established last fall.

Field size was exceptional, averaging more than 10 starters per race, but Keeneland president Nick Nicholson said the poor U.S. economy clearly was a major detriment to business.

In a press release, Nicholson said he was glad to see the "many positives to come out of the fall meet, especially considering it was conducted during one of the toughest economic periods in U.S. history."

On the racetrack, jockey Robby Albarado won his third Keeneland title by riding 22 winners, three more than Julien Leparoux. Albarado also led the standings at the 2002 and 2003 spring meets.

Trainer Mike Maker won the training title by a 9-8 count over Ken McPeek, while Maker's main clients, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, won their seventh Keeneland owner's title with eight winners.