Rises in on-track attendance, field size and purses tell a positive
business tale for racing at Del Mar this summer as the seaside oval put
its first two weeks of action into the record books Sunday evening.
Stating the case best of all is the track’s 4.8 % rise in attendance
through the first two weeks of the seven-week session. The daily average
attendance registered in at 20,737 after 10 of the track’s scheduled 37
racing programs. Last year Del Mar averaged 17,906 per afternoon,
which was a 4.2% increase from 2009’s daily average of 17,181.
Del Mar’s overnight purses are the highest in its history and the
best on a comparative level of any track in the country. They have led
to an increase in field size at the track – to 8.3 horses-per-race from
8.1 in 2010 -- despite dire concerns in California about the number of
horses available for race cards.
“We have the highest purses on a race-by-race comparative level of
any track in the country,” said Tom Robbins, Del Mar’s executive vice
president for racing and industry relations, as well as its racing
secretary. “We are very proud of that and we appreciate the support of
our horsemen in that regard. Despite real concerns about the number of
racing days and the size of cards, we’ve run the same number of races
(88) as we did through 10 days last year. That’s no small feat in this
Del Mar aggressively pursued additional racing stock leading up to
its meet through its “Ship and Win” program that gave bonuses to
horsemen bringing out-of-state runners to the track. More than 100
horses have come on board to take advantage of the program and several
of them already have cashed in on the bonus monies.
Del Mar’s handle figures run almost exactly parallel to last year’s
numbers. Through the first 10 days this season, the track’s total handle
is $11.7 million per day, nearly dead even with last year’s opening two
weeks. The one positive figure for the track in its 2011 pari-mutuel
numbers was a notable 16.5% jump in ADW handle, its leading growth area.
Another positive economic indicator is the flurry of activity at the
claiming box that has seen 78 horses change hands for a total of
$1,744,000 thus far at the stand. Those figures point back to the more
rosy economic times prior to the ongoing national recession.
“We’re off to a very fine beginning,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
CEO, president and general manager Joe Harper. “We’ll try to take this
jump start and keep running with it.”