10/28/2012 9:52AM

Keeneland fall meet posts gains in attendance, all-sources handle

Coady Photography
Julien Leparoux won 26 races at Keeneland's fall meet to collect his fifth straight leading rider title at the Lextington, Ky. , track.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Record attendance highlighted Keeneland’s fall meet, which came to a close Saturday with gain in all-sources handle and a small drop in ontrack handle.

Attendance at the Keeneland fall meet totaled 259,710, a rise of 3.8 percent and an average of 15,277 over the 17-day meet, eclipsing last year’s record average attendance of 14,715.

Handle numbers showed an overall gain due to off-track wagering, with all-sources wagering on Keeneland rising to $137,981,281, an increase of nearly 7.4 percent over the fall of 2011, and a daily average of $8,116,545. But ontrack numbers dipped despite record attendance, averaging $1,068,236 a day – a drop of 3.8 percent from 2011.

Although not necessarily the cause of the ontrack decline, this fall Keeneland experimented by showing win payoffs of its tote board relative to $1 wagers, a somewhat confusing format for bettors long accustomed to a more traditional display of odds.

Field size remained high at 9.9 runners per race, but fell short of last year’s 10.1 average. A total of  161 races were conducted this year, compared with  162 last fall.

The 17-day season began, as usual, with Fall Stars Weekend, which showcased a number of Breeders’ Cup contenders, including leading Breeders’ Cup Mile contender Wise Dan, winner of the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on Oct. 6.

“This was a strong meeting from many aspects – especially wagering, attendance, and quality of racing,” said Bill Thomason, in his first race meet as Keeneland president and CEO.

Jockey Julien Leparoux and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey dominated the meet, with Leparoux capturing his fifth consecutive, and ninth overall, leading rider title. He finished with 26 wins and in the midst of the meet became just the fifth jockey to record 300 career victories at Keeneland.

The 12 wins by the Ramseys this fall tied a record for most wins by an owner during a race meet, and gave them their 11th leading owner title.

Wesley Ward won three races on closing day to overtake  Mike Maker in the trainer standings, prevailing by a 12-10 margin. Ward swept the titles for the two Keeneland meets this year, as did the Ramseys.