Updated on 09/15/2011 1:21PM

Numbers up despite late-meet slump


CHICAGO - Running deeper into autumn than it ever had before, Arlington Park experienced significant declines in business during September and October, clouding what otherwise was a successful meet.

Still, Arlington officials were pleased with the core of their 2001 racing season. With two fewer racing dates than last year, Arlington's 101-day meet, which began June 13, was up 3 percent in total handle from $335,567,238 to $345,463,483. Daily all-sources handle averaged $3,420,431, up 5 percent from last year's $3,257,934.

Mirroring nationwide industry trends, ontrack handle and attendance decreased from last season. Daily average ontrack handle was $562,421, down 12 percent from last season, while average daily attendance slipped 12 percent, from 6,709 to 5,890. But those numbers were in far better shape before the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and unusually wet weather this month took hold. In October, average daily average ontrack handle plunged precipitously to $286,859. As of Sept. 15, Arlington's average daily ontrack handle was $670,493, its average daily attendance 7,045, both increases from 2000.

With the gloomy fall, the track now must decide whether to retain the present calendar or revert to its previous schedule, when it opened on Mother's Day in May. Arlington is locked into a 107-day meet next year that runs through the end of October.

Arlington shifted its schedule this season because it hopes to host the World Thoroughbred Champion-ships next year. The Breeders' Cup has designated Arlington as the preferred 2002 host site, but the track continues working on the financial structuring of the event.

"The ball's in our court," Arlington president Steve Sexton said.

The race for leading jockey here was a runaway. Arlington newcomer Rene Douglas, who decided to ride here only days before the meet began, racked up 134 wins, 68 more than his nearest pursuer.

The battle for leading trainer went down to the final day. Jerry Hollendorfer, spending his first season in Chicago, edged defending champion Wayne Catalano by two winners, 41 to 39. Catalano is the private trainer for Frank Calabrese, who easily won the owners' title with 39 wins, 26 more than his nearest pursuer.