Sunday, November 9th, 2014 ( 5 years ago )
Numbers Way Up
As Del Mar Kicks Off 'Bing Crosby Season'
Del Mar’s “Bing Crosby Season” got up and running November 7-8-9 and the running was good. The seaside track’s new 15-day fall meet completed its first week of action Sunday and the numbers, the racing and the general demeanor of all on hand said something special appears to be going on.
Attendance numbers, when placed alongside the gate count from the now-shuttered Hollywood Park during the same period last year, show a marked jump on Del Mar’s end. The fan total after three days at the shore was 29,076, as opposed to the L.A. track’s digits of 10,344. The daily average of 9,692 was 181% above Hollywood’s 3,448.
Handle numbers were robust also – across the board. On-track handle averaged $1,249,348 per day, as opposed to Hollywood’s $834,298, an increase of 49.7%. California’s off-track wagering patrons (ITW and ADW customers) averaged $4,040,916 (against $3,088,514), up 30.8%. Out-of-state betting saw the average daily number at $5,002,388 (against $4,376,415), a rise of 14.3%.
Overall, Del Mar’s daily average handle registered in at $10,766,286, which stacked up 23.2% higher than the Los Angeles track’s 2013 number of $8,739,957.
There were nine races run on each of the first three days and, of the 27 total, 11 of them – or 40% -- were run on the track’s expanded turf course that was installed back in the spring. Trainers and jockeys responded positively to the grass strip, running an average of 9.73 horses per race on it during the extended weekend.
The praise for the new course, now fully settled and deep-rooted, was near universal. Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith went so far as the call it “brilliant; one of the best courses I’ve ever ridden on.” Smith added that the lush course all but took the sound out of the horses running over it. “Like riding with earplugs,” he said.
Overall, including 16 races on the track’s Polytrack – which is in its final meet before being replaced by dirt this coming winter – the per-race field size was 8.59 horses, a very solid number in the currently national environment of short fields and a general lack of horses. Six out-of-state horses took advantage of the track’s ongoing “Ship and Win” program to race at the session during the first three days.
“A very fine start to this new venture,” said track president and CEO Joe Harper. “Anyone who came these first three days went away feeling like they’d been part of a special thing; there’s just a good vibe about it all. The racing was safe and first-rate and we really couldn’t be more pleased.”
Racing resumes at Del Mar Thursday for the first of three four-day weeks (Thursdays-through-Sundays) going to November 30. The track announced an adjustment to a universal 12:30 p.m. first post on all racing days for the balance of the session with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, when racing will commence at 11 a.m. and finish at approximately 2:30 p.m.