02/24/2016 1:26PM

Santa Anita attendance up, handle down

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Santa Anita has posted a gain in ontrack attendance, but declines in ontrack and all-sources handle with more than half of its winter-spring meeting completed.

Through Sunday, the 35th day of the 63-day meeting, ontrack attendance has risen 9 percent compared with the corresponding period of the 2014-15 meeting, according to vice president of marketing Nate Newby. Ontrack handle has declined 4 percent, while all-sources handle, including simulcast and account-wagering sources, is down 2 percent.

The meeting began on Dec. 26 and continues through April 10.

Newby said one reason for the rise in attendance is the track’s emphasis on promotions to reach new fans. The weather has been largely favorable. A wet winter was predicted from an El Nino weather system, but with the exception of a three days in early January, there has been minimal rainfall on race days.

Two of the meeting’s biggest days have yet to be run – the Santa Anita Handicap card on March 12 and the Santa Anita Derby card on April 9. Each race is worth $1 million. A handicapping contest on March 19-20 is expected to boost ontrack handle, Newby said.

Last year, Santa Anita ran from Dec. 26 to late June. This year, Los Alamitos will have a three-week meeting from April 14 to May 1 before Santa Anita runs a spring-summer meeting from May 5 to July 10.