02/19/2013 1:23PM

Santa Anita business a mixed bag


Boosted by account wagering, all-sources handle was up 3 percent at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting through Sunday, according to track president George Haines.

But ontrack handle had declined by approximately 15 percent, which Haines attributed to wet weather and can be largely recovered before the meeting ends on April 21, he said. Sunday was the 34th day of the 71-day meeting, which began on Dec. 26.

“The first half of the meet we had some inclement weather that slowed things down with ontrack attendance and handle,” he said.

“I think we can make some of that number up. I have a good feeling.

“When you have a slow start like we did, people delay their visits until later in the meeting.”

Some of the track’s biggest races have yet to be run – notably the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 2 and the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6. Both programs draw large crowds.

Haines said that account wagering, largely through the internet, has risen 40 percent when compared to the 2011-12 meeting. He cited increased distribution of the television signal as the primary reason.

For the first time this year, both TVG and HRTV are showing Santa Anita’s winter-spring meeting. In the past, HRTV had exclusive rights to the winter-spring meeting.

Haines did not release detailed attendance and handle figures.

Through Monday, field sizes have averaged 8.37 runners per race, compared to 8.25 for a similar period last year. The overall 2011-2012 meeting had an average field size of 7.86 runners.