04/29/2013 1:43PM

Keeneland meet sets record for total handle, attendance


Officials at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., on Monday released final business figures for the 16-day spring meet that ended Friday, with the obvious high points being records for all-sources total handle ($161,990,603) and attendance (278,415).

The gross all-sources handle at a meet that began April 6 narrowly eclipsed the former record of $158,368,309 set during the 15-day spring meet in 2007. The attendance bettered the former mark of 269,292, set last spring during a 15-day meet.

Daily all-sources handle averaged $10,124,413, short of the record of $10,557,887 set during that same 2007 meet, but up 11 percent over last spring ($9,117,293). All comparative handle figures include imported simulcasting.

Average attendance of 17,401 was down 3 percent from the record set during the slightly shorter meet last spring (17,949).

Updated figures released Monday showed the only hint of bad news: the gross ontrack handle of nearly $18.9 million averaged $1,180,662, down more than 9 percent from corresponding dates at the 2012 spring meet, when ontrack handle averaged $1,303,143.

Overall, Keeneland president Bill Thomason said in a Monday release that he was very pleased with business.

“This was an amazing meet from so many aspects – wagering, attendance, and quality of racing,” he said. “Our horses, horsemen and jockeys remain second to none, as do our fans.”

On the racetrack, Ken and Sarah Ramsey more than doubled the old record for most wins at a Keeneland meet by an owner with 25 winners, while their primary trainer, Mike Maker, also set a record in the trainer category with 25 wins. Jockey Joel Rosario, in his first full meet at a Kentucky track, set a spring-meet record for wins with 37. The all-time single-meet jockey record at Keeneland is 45, set by Pat Day at the 1991 fall meet.