04/20/2011 3:02PM

Oaklawn handle dips but purses hit a high


Average all-sources handle declined slightly but purses rose to a record during the recently concluded meet at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., according to figures provided by the track.

Although the trends in the all-sources handle and purse figures were mixed, Oaklawn also posted slight gains in ontrack handle and attendance, at a time when national handle is down 8.5 percent for the year. Oaklawn also cancelled eight of its first 18 cards because of adverse weather conditions, and the track ultimately ran 49 full live programs, compared with 50 last year, when there were three full cards and one partial card lost.

Average all-sources handle on the track’s races was $3,094,711, a 3 percent decline from last year’s figure of $3,199,171, according to the track. Average ontrack handle was $825,431, up approximately 1 percent over last year’s figure of $816,570.

“Considering the challenges we faced at the beginning, we are extremely pleased with the results of our live meet,” said David Longinotti, the track’s assistant general manager, in a statement. “The national trend has tracks averaging 10 percent declines or greater, and we were well below that.”

Average daily attendance rose 3 percent, from 11,346 a day to 11,649. The figures were helped by large crowds for the Presidents’ Day card, when attendance was 25,237, and for Arkansas Derby day, when attendance was 62,364, the largest crowd, by far, at any U.S. racetrack this year.

Purses rose to approximately $340,000 a day, a figure that the track called a record. Purses at Oaklawn are subsidized by revenues from a type of slot machine that uses previously run races to generate random numbers that are used to pay winning bettors.

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