02/11/2012 12:32PM

Sam Houston: Monday racing helps boost handle

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Sam Houston Race Park in Houston is experiencing double-digit gains in handle three weeks into its season, and one of the keys to its success has been Monday racing. The track reached a Monday milestone this past week, when $1,790,127 was bet on its 10-race card from all sources.

“Last Monday was our biggest day for a Monday handle ever,” said Andrea Young, the president of Sam Houston.

The track first began incorporating Monday racing into its schedule in 2010, testing the concept for four dates in March. It became a regular part of the track’s racing calendar in 2011.

“We picked Mondays because we felt like there was a void in content for players out in the simulcast community,” she said.

“Mondays are up 30 percent.”

Overall this meet, Sam Houston is averaging $1,388,778 a day in handle on its live races from all sources. The number is through the first 11 dates of the season, and it represents a 17 percent increase from the corresponding period in 2011, according to figures provided by Sam Houston.

Of the total amount, Sam Houston’s handle offtrack is averaging $1,254,824 a day, which is up 16 percent. There are no concrete trends for the uptick, said Young.

“It’s not one significant place,” she said, when asked. “It’s across the board.”

Betting on the track’s races onsite has averaged $133,594 a day this meet, an increase of 25 percent. The surge correlates with an increase in average daily attendance this meet.

Along with handle figures, field size is also up, as the track is averaging 8.8 starters per race, versus 8.4 through the corresponding period in 2011.

Alternation possible for Maxxam

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel said the $150,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston on March 3 is one of two next-race options being considered for Alternation, who won the $100,000 Essex Handicap last weekend at Oaklawn Park. The other is the Grade 3, $125,000 Razorback Handicap, which will be run at Oaklawn on March 10.

Alternation earned a career-high Beyer Figure of 100 for his win in the Essex. He rolled home by four lengths, in what was his first start since October.