09/26/2011 2:51PM

Louisiana Downs has increase in business


Louisiana Downs closed out its 84-date meet on Sunday with a marginal increase in handle on its live races. The track reported an average $1,279,233 a day was bet on its races from all sources, up a quarter of a percent from the 84-date meet in 2010.

Of that total, an average $1,156,273 a day was handled offtrack, up .22 percent, and an average $122,960 a day ontrack, up .37 percent. Officials were pleased with the numbers in light of recent industry trends and the economy.

“I think flat in 2011 is similar to being up 10 percent five years ago,” said Trent McIntosh, director of operations for Louisiana Downs. “It’s just much harder to produce a positive number at the end of the meet, and we pulled it off this year and we’re really proud of it.”

McIntosh said the numbers, including a 5.7 percent increase in handle on incoming simulcasts, were triggered by several factors.

“We’ve got 230 new flat-screen televisions in the building,” he said. “We’ve got a new high-end racing longue. We created a racing-specific player-reward system for our customers this year, and I think we did a much better job communicating with our guests through mail offers.”

Purses at the meet averaged $158,000 a program, about the same as 2010.

Jockey Richard Eramia won his first North American title with 129 wins from 594 starts and meet-best mount earnings of $1,862,652. Morris Nicks, a trainer since 1967, won his first career title with 43 wins from 119 starters and stable earnings of $646,504. Charlie Hukill was the leading owner with 18 wins, eight months after losing more than 20 horses in a barn fire in Texas.