10/26/2013 6:23PM

Keeneland fall meet sets records for attendance, handle


Keeneland Racecourse posted record averages for both attendance and wagering handle during its 17-day fall meet, the track said on Saturday, the fourth straight meet at which attendance records rose.

Average attendance rose 3 percent to 15,674, Keeneland said, despite up-and-down weather throughout the meet, which ended on Saturday. The meet started on an unseasonably hot day, was followed by heavy rains for two weekend days, and then the track enjoyed nearly ideal weather for a week. The last week of the meet started out cold and wintry, but closing day was seasonable.

“Our attendance growth is a true testament to our fan base and their appreciation of great racing,” said track president Bill Thomason, in a statement. “Despite record rainfall on opening Fall Stars weekend, and earlier than normal cold temperatures, our fans still turned out in record numbers.”

Average daily all-sources handle rose 1 percent to $8,215,305, the track said. Average field size during the meet was a heady 9.85 starters per race, fueling the growth in betting.

Average ontrack handle was up slightly, according to figures provided by the track, to $1,069,020, just marginally over the average for last year.

Rosie Napravnik took her first riding title at the track, winning five races over the final two days for 17, six better than Joe Rocco Jr. and Alan Garcia. Napravnik became the first woman to ever win a Keeneland title.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey took the owners’ title, breaking a record they shared with Robert F. Roberts and his wife. The Ramseys won 17 races this fall; the old record was 12. The Ramseys also set a record for wins at the Keeneland spring meet, and they have won four consecutive owners’ titles at the track.

The Ramseys’ primary trainer, Mike Maker, took the trainers’ title, with 17 wins. Napravnik had first call on many of the Maker-Ramsey runners.