06/30/2014 8:17AM

Santa Anita ends spring-summer meet with increased all-sources handle

Benoit Photo
Majestic Harbor, winner of the Santa Anita Gold Cup on Saturday, was named the 2014 horse of the meet.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Santa Anita ended its spring-summer meeting on Sunday, a 38-day season that showed a 40 percent increase in all-sources handle compared with the corresponding meeting at Hollywood Park in 2013, according to chairman Keith Brackpool.

Santa Anita’s winter-spring meeting operated in its traditional time period, from Dec. 26, 2013, to April 20 of this year, before the spring-summer meeting began on April 25, replacing dates previously held by Hollywood Park, which closed last December.

Santa Anita officials estimated that all-sources handle for the spring-summer meeting reached a total of $377.2 million, for an average of $9.93 million per day. Ontrack handle averaged an estimated $1.4 million per day, while ontrack attendance averaged 6,970. The attendance figure did not include free admission to the infield on weekends.

The all-sources handle exceeded expectations.

“I think everything went spectacular,” track president Tom Ludt said.

The handle figures were high enough that the purse pool was underpaid. Officials have held conversations with the Thoroughbred Owners of California about carrying some purse money into the autumn meeting that begins in late September in an effort to have uniform purses throughout the year. In past years, the autumn meeting has had a lower purse structure.

“We’re trying to make an arrangement that we’ll roll some of the money forward to the fall meeting,” Ludt said. “We want to keep that consistent for the fall meeting.”

Ludt said that if the final figures on the purse underpayment are higher than expected, then a retroactive purse payment is possible for owners who had horses earn prize money in overnight races at the meeting.

Average field size was 7.71 runners per race, a minor increase over the 7.66 runners per race during the winter-spring meeting, and the 7.6 runners per race at the 2013 Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

This year’s spring-summer meeting lost one day of racing – May 15 – to excessively warm conditions. On June 7, the day of the simulcast of the Belmont Stakes program, the track recorded its highest ontrack attendance of the meeting – 31,208. The all-sources handle that day was $21.2 million, slightly less than the meet-high of $21.3 million recorded on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3.

The track tried different promotions during the spring-summer meeting, shifting Friday post times from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific, and offering free weekend attendance to the infield.

Ludt said that a new policy of offering free admission to the infield will continue in the autumn meeting. The track did not count those customers in its attendance figures. Warm weather held down infield crowds in recent weeks since the infield does not have many structures with cover to get away from the sun.

Joe Talamo won the riding title, with 43 wins, 12 more than runner-up Tyler Baze. The jockey standings sustained a major shakeup when Rafael Bejarano, who led the standings at the winter-spring meeting, suffered injuries to his shoulder blade and collarbone in a spill on May 10. Bejarano is expected to return to riding in July.

Doug O’Neill led all trainers with 27 wins, four more than Peter Miller.

Kaleem Shah was named owner of the meeting, leading the category with $414,190 in stable earnings and five wins.

Majestic Harbor, who won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita on Saturday, was named horse of the meeting.

Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
What's the local handle? That's a true barometer. As it is, tracks in North America, today, are more poplular overseas than they are at home. And this is the big problem. Fans in the USA and Canada have tuned out because the presentation and overall image is so bad.
Lefty More than 1 year ago
Well, what we need are horses for courses. I want to see Sprinters like Midnight Hawk and Bayern in 6 or 7 furlong races. I want Mucho Macho Man back in the Game! I want Turf Champions running on Turf. It seems like Trainers and Owners are trying to push the envelope on what the horse can do and also take advantage of a quick buck. Like lesser name tracks overpaying for good horses, but not great. Like Tracks that offer a Million Bucks for essentially High Allowance Company horses. That's not good either. If you're paying a million bucks for the purse, it better be championship quality horses we see out there. Not some overrated boxcar willy!
Billy Budd More than 1 year ago
I believe that number was addressed in the article.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
With all due respect, the people running horse racing in North America should be ashamed of themselves: they haven't got a clue.
Lefty More than 1 year ago
With all the High Quality Advice Dispensed by TVG and Pick Six Central. Everybody joined in the Fun! They didn't win a penny, but they joined in the fun! =P
TheRaiderFan More than 1 year ago
What about Churchill Downs? How did their meet do?
David More than 1 year ago
what a slow and painful death to a once great spectacle!
Thomas Spiegel More than 1 year ago
amen to these comments. Churchill needs to make business-saving decisions here...
mikey More than 1 year ago
The race tracks are dead without betting off track.
Edward Grant More than 1 year ago
Why can't the 1$ Place Pick All be part of the Wagering like it was before? Surely it does not detract from other types of Wagering? It's a type of wager that the "old cronies" like myself enjoy.
Quite a More than 1 year ago
"Average field size was 7.71 runners per race, a minor increase over the 7.66 runners per race during the winter-spring meeting, and the 7.6 runners per race at the 2013 Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting." You could have fooled me...
racetrackandy More than 1 year ago
Santa Anita did do a good job and a lot of the credit goes to Nate Newby and Mike Willman who recognized that the hot topic was takeout in light of the boycott of Churchill Downs. Advertisements both in banner ads and radio talking low takeout helped a lot with Gamblers around the Country. Santa Anita/Del Mar/Los Alamitos have the lowest WPS takeout (15.43%) of any major track, the lowest Daily Double Takeout (18%) of any major track, and what many consider the best bet in Racing (pool size and takeout) the low takeout (14%) Players Pick 5. And you have tweets like this that went out on a regular basis: Andy Asaro @racetrackandy • Jun 14 @santaanitapark @nnewby 14% take P5, 18% take Rolling DD's, and 15.43% take WPS. All lowest take of any major track.
Lawrence MacSelwiney More than 1 year ago
Great post Andy. I read a comment the other day some buffoon wrote. He was saying SA has the highest take-out in the nation. I just commented idiot.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Great info. Glad to see SA has helped itself and horseplayers with these takeout rates. Now I wish they would go back to their exacta takeouts from a couple years ago. The CHRB raised the exacta take and it's not competitive with some other states.