07/08/2014 2:00PM

Los Alamitos handles $5.6M a day during first week


CYPRESS, Calif. – The first week of the Los Alamitos summer Thoroughbred meeting ended Sunday with attendance and handle lower than during the corresponding week at now-shuttered Hollywood Park last year.

Over four days, from Thursday through Sunday, Los Alamitos had average ontrack attendance of 3,996, an average ontrack handle of $473,126, and an all-sources average handle of $5,638,202. Los Alamitos had eight-race programs Thursday and Friday and nine-race programs Saturday and Sunday.

During the same week in 2013, Hollywood Park had average attendance of 4,921, an average ontrack handle of $1,081,467, and an all-sources average handle of $8,569,980. During that time, Hollywood Park ran nine races on its Thursday and Sunday programs, eight races on a Friday evening, and 10 races, including the Hollywood Gold Cup, on Saturday.

Los Alamitos averaged 7.41 starters in 34 races, all dirt, compared with 7.5 starters in 36 races, on turf and synthetic, at Hollywood Park. Los Alamitos does not have a turf course.

Hollywood Park closed last December. Los Alamitos has picked up five weeks of Thoroughbred dates in July and December previously held by Hollywood Park.

Brad McKinzie, the general manager of the Los Alamitos Thoroughbred operation, said it is difficult to make valid comparisons between the two tracks. Los Alamitos has not hosted a Thoroughbred meeting since the 1991 Orange County Fair.

“We didn’t have anything to compare it to,” he said. “We have to run a meeting, run our numbers, and make relative estimates on how those numbers are, and see how we fit into the schedule. We’re not going to put up Santa Anita and Del Mar numbers.”

McKinzie said purses for the eight-day meeting, which ends Sunday, are likely to be overpaid, meaning the purse pool will carry forward a deficit.

He said the decision to put $500,000 into the purse of the Los Alamitos Derby last Saturday was necessary to build awareness of the brief meeting with offtrack bettors across the nation. The race was won by Shared Belief, the champion 2-year-old male of 2013.

“You have to have something to draw them to your signal,” he said. “A $200,000 race doesn’t move the needle. We needed a prominent horse. We’re hoping to get some residual attention out of that.”