04/28/2008 12:00AM

Keeneland ontrack bets dip


Keeneland Race Course on Monday released a full business report that revealed average all-sources handle at its 16-day spring meet was down 11 percent over the corresponding 2007 meet, while average ontrack handle was down nearly 6 percent despite an increase in average attendance of 6 percent.

Although the estimated gross all-sources handle of $150.45 million was the second highest in track history, behind only the $158.4 million handled last year, there was an additional day of racing this year at a meet that ran April 4-25 at the Lexington, Ky., track. Average all-sources handle was $9.4 million, down substantially from the nearly $10.6 million bet daily in 2007.

Ontrack attendance averaged 15,225, exceeding the 14,335 from last year, but ontrack handle, which includes simulcast imports, averaged $1,623,362, compared with $1,723,948 in 2007.

Keeneland officials attributed the results to various factors, including the fact numerous business records were set last spring. The track's president, Nick Nicholson, said in a release that other factors included the current volatility in the advance-deposit wagering market and the difficulty some handicappers are experiencing with synthetic tracks. Keeneland began using Polytrack as its main racing surface at the 2006 fall meet.

"As someone said to me, there's been a learning curve with Polytrack for trainers and jockeys, and it's the same for handicappers," said Nicholson.