04/22/2013 2:13PM

Santa Anita business boosted by account wagering

Barbara D. Livingston
Game On Dude, trained By Bob Baffert, was named horse of the winter-spring Santa Anita meeting after winning the San Antonio Stakes and Santa Anita Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The Santa Anita winter-spring meeting ended Sunday with a slight gain in all-sources handle, but a sizeable drop in ontrack business, according to the track’s president, George Haines.

The track released limited business and handle data.

In an interview, Haines said the all-sources handle rose 4 percent. Ontrack handle fell 10 percent on comparative days from the 2011-12 winter-spring season, while ontrack attendance was down 9 percent, he said.

“We had a challenge early in the meet with weather,” Haines said referring to pesky wet conditions in January. “At the end of the meeting, we recovered well with attendance.”

The gain in all-sources handle was caused by an increase of approximately 40 percent in account wagering through telephone and Internet sources.

“Our greatest strength has been in [the account wagering] side of our business,” he said. “We’re up close to 40 percent.”

The winter-spring meeting was the first that was available for viewing on both TVG and HRTV, a subsidiary of Santa Anita’s parent company, The Stronach Group.

Haines said that purses “are underpaid, but not by much.” He said the surplus in the purse pool was not enough to justify a retroactive payment in coming weeks.

The 71-day winter-spring meeting began Dec. 26, and is expected to be the last of its kind for the foreseeable future.

Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., has committed to racing through the end of 2013, but the track’s owners have indicated a desire to close the facility for commercial and real-estate development. Hollywood Park officials have not said whether the track will operate in 2014, and there is widespread belief in Southern California racing that the track will be closed at the end of this year.

If Hollywood Park closes, Santa Anita is expected to request additional racing dates in the spring and early summer. The track could run from Dec. 26, 2013, through early July 2014. Racing dates for 2014 will be discussed at a California Horse Racing Board meeting in Sacramento on May 23.

If Santa Anita runs for more than six months in the first half of 2014, Haines said the meeting will look significantly different than the 2013 season.

“It’s a challenge for us to come up with an exciting stakes schedule and to keep people interested,” he said.

Santa Anita will host a fall meeting this year, from Sept. 27 to Nov. 3, that will include the two-day Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 1-2.

On the racetrack, Bob Baffert led all trainers with 38 wins for his third consecutive training title at the winter-spring meeting. Jerry Hollendorfer was second with 35 wins. Baffert has won a record 11 training titles at the winter-spring meeting.

The Baffert-trained Game On Dude was named horse of the meeting after winning two major stakes, the San Antonio Stakes and Santa Anita Handicap.

Rafael Bejarano won his fourth riding title of a winter-spring meeting with 93 wins, 31 more than Edwin Maldonado.

Kosta and Pete Hronis were leading owners with 11 wins, including Saturday’s Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap with Lady of Shamrock, who was promoted from second to first.

Quite A Dude More than 1 year ago
You can't grow your business with 5-6 horse fields. There is no longer enough Owners willing to spend $4000 a month (conservative figure for SoCal) to watch a horse make $2000... No owners; no horses; no handle..
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
yes another factor
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Accounts up 40% and attendance down?? Shows how bad publicity management is doing..I bet could have attendance up 25% in 18 months ..No problem extending dates..Whats wrong with introducing ....$5000---$6000 claiming races. In the old days we had some like that ... at a Mile and a Quarter that were great...and had qualifiers that went to 3 races and then a final race with a big purse...some of the trainers liked to sneak into them was fun and entertaining....Racing is great but the executives in charge of promoting have not a clue. no imagination ...If your interested Santa Anita hook up with me on my facebook account.............................................georgebrosse
Brad More than 1 year ago
Brad-You would think the powers that be would take note of the account wagering increase at SA and do something for the racing fans in this country for a change.Having DirecTV, which carries TVG only, I would hope they would be allowed to carry racing from tracks such as Arlington, Gulfstream and Churchill. If that doesn't happen, then it is my hope that DirecTV finally reaches an agreement to add HRTV to their line-up. Lets get the ball rolling Mr Stronach
chairmanwong0 More than 1 year ago
California racing is the best. I dont care for big fields. 5 to 6 horse fields is the best. I love it when theres a strong favorite where I can pound the show pool. Make my 5% and call it a days work. Best of all, theres at least 4 races a week like that. Thats a cumulative roi of 21.5%. Cant find an investment vehicle like that anywhere!!! And nothing makes me more happy than a negative takeout for the track where they lose money. For the lack of regard the track show us bettors, im glad to support any initiative where I get to stick it right back at them. Call me harsh or not caring for the horse industry but the reality of it is, its nothing personal, its just business. If the track didnt make the mandatory takeout of up to 25% on the gimmic bets, they wouldnt survive. What has the track done for you lately to deserve the takeout? Its not customer service for sure. If you work in the private sector, youre asked to improve the customer experience ever year and improve your operations, cant say the track has done that. So until I see bettors gaining a benefit, I'll wager on their products with the lowest takeout. Woodbines got the lowest takeout that ive seen thus far at 14.95% on win wagers. Thats where the most amount of money is returned to the bettor. Just makes business sense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry to see the meet end at SA. Best track in SoCal. Del Mar was right up there also until it was ruined by the installation of polytrack.
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Agree about poly should have never tampered with it
Mike More than 1 year ago
Never seen Cali racing in worse shape - Same re-cycled horses every few weeks - no shipper's or new blood ever seems to come. Cali is totally isolated.
Pete Morris More than 1 year ago
This meet was on fumes the last 2 weeks, how can anyone think another 6 weeks is going to work. The races are nothing more than merry go round style, it really is very boring. How after all the time to get the track right could this have been what there is. I have always loved CA racing, but now find myself following Keeneland and Woodbine.
Anil More than 1 year ago
Santa Anita may race from Dec 26th 2013 to July 2014..... where are they going to find horses to fill these days? Have Cl2500 like Los Al. California racing is about to die... So sad.
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Your wrong and right............. IF............ they don't fix it.......In the old days there were $5000 claimers and up with special starter allowance races at longer distances and they were fun and great...nothing wrong with cheaper races same game...The promotion advertising is what really sucks...I remember the front page of the Los Angeles Examiner having racing excluvsivley on the front page ........ with $$$ they can get back thru with paper and TV exposure but they don't even try
jttf More than 1 year ago
illinois sure hasnt helped the account wagering. illinois still doesnt have any account wagering and it looks like there wont be any for a long time. illinois government officials are very lazy and weak minded.
Ed Levar More than 1 year ago
I'm embarrassed to live in a state run by a bunch of idiots. If I don't have my account back by the derby, I will quit racing for good, or be forced to move out of state. What a joke.
Matthew More than 1 year ago
What do you expect from a State that gave us our great socialist President? Do you know what goes on in Cicero? Oh, yeah there's a racetrack there...linked to the Mob. Races are never fixed there and never have been ;-)