12/06/2014 7:52PM

Opening-day handle up more than 10 percent over last year

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Opening day of the 2014-15 Gulfstream Park meet was a smashing success, with the overall handle of $10.06 million on the 10-race program up more than 10 percent over the $8.8 million wagered on opening day last year. Perfect weather and a huge crowd also helped produce a staggering 36 percent gain in on-track handle compared to opening day in 2013.

The increase in business on the 10-race program, which featured eight Claiming Crown races, came about despite the current impasse between the Stronach Group and the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative, which represents 23 tracks around the country. The dispute prevented wagering on the signal from any Stronach-owned racetracks, including Gulfstream Park, on Saturday.  Handle from the Mid-Atlantic exceeded $700,000 on opening day here a year ago.

“Being up over 10 percent from last year without the Mid-Atlantic is huge,” said Gulfstream Park Vice President of Racing and newly appointed General Manager P.J. Campo. “It was a great day, and we had a great crowd.”

Full fields abounded on opening day, with 14 horses going postward in eight of the 10 races on the card, including the finale, the Claiming Crown Jewel, won by trainer Nick Zito’s 17-1 shot, Catholic Cowboy.