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Short schedule brings overall decline but increased daily averages for Turfway

Monday, March 29, 2010 12:00 AM
  • General
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 29, 2010 . . . With its racing schedule for the 2010 winter/spring meet shortened to three or four days per week instead of the traditional five days, Turfway Park ended the meet with significant declines in on-track and all-sources handle compared to the same meet last year. Daily averages, however, were up.

Racing only Friday through Sunday in January and February and Thursday through Sunday in March, Turfway experienced a 24.3 percent decrease in on-track handle and a 19.1 percent decrease in all-sources handle for the winter/spring meet that began January 1 and ended March 28. The track presented 435 races over 45 days in the 2010 meet, compared to 619 races over 62 days in 2009.

Daily averages, however, were up 4.2 percent on track and 11.5 percent from all sources, the latter bolstered by a 14.1 percent increase in out-of-state play.

"This year's winter/spring meet was really an experiment, and we will continue to analyze the results against our expectations," said Turfway Park president Robert N. Elliston. "While we are pleased to see average daily increases in on-track wagering and support from out-of-state outlets, the competitive landscape we're up against and the fact that we're not permitted to meet that competition head-on continues to make it difficult to invest in our business."

On-track handle totaled $5,311,571, down from $7,020,016 in the 2009 meet. All sources handle was $91,981,598, down from $113,649,793.

Daily on-track handle averaged $118,035, up from $113,226 in 2009, while daily all-sources handle was $2,044,036, up from $1,833,061.

All numbers reflect play only on Turfway races. What they do not obviously reveal is the operating margin behind each dollar. For each dollar wagered by patrons at Turfway, the track receives about 20 cents depending on the wager. In round numbers, about half goes to the purse fund and the remaining dime goes to the track for operating expenses. For each dollar wagered off track, the track generally receives about 3 cents, also evenly divided between the purse fund and operating expenses; this structure varies depending on whether the wager is placed elsewhere in Kentucky or out of state. The majority of each dollar wagered, about 83 cents, is returned to the bettors. The rest goes to state taxes.

Purses paid across the meet fell 25.8 percent to $5,754,751, down from $7,751,083. Purses paid daily averaged $127,883, up 2.3 percent over the $125,017 daily average in 2009.

With only three or four days to run, average field size was up 8.9 percent from 7.9 per race to 8.6.

Stokes earns first Turfway title
Jockey Rex Stokes III earned his first Turfway riding title, ending with 54 wins from 290 mounts. Tom Pompell, who spent much of the meet in a tight battle for the lead with John McKee, finished second with 49 wins from 304 mounts. McKee checked in third by wins with 47 from 226 mounts.

Stokes rode 23 of his winners, including Flavor in the Forego Stakes, for the meet's leading trainer, Joe Woodard. Woodard earned his third straight Turfway title by saddling 26 winners from 106 starters. Mike Maker was second with 23 wins from 75 starters, and Eric Reed was third with 16 wins from 56 starters.

Much of Woodard's success reflects the success of the meet's leading ownership entity, Billy, Donna, and Justin Hays, who started 104 runners and counted 24 wins. Woodard has long trained for Billy Hays, who was the previous meet's leading owner racing under his name alone. Behind the Hays family were Ken and Sarah Ramsey with 10 winners from 38 starters. Ron McKay's M Y Stables Inc. had six winners from 32 starters to take third place.

Live racing will return to Turfway for the fall meet beginning September 8. In the meantime, the track remains open for simulcast wagering and for events and concerts scheduled throughout the spring and summer.

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