||Wagering On Par at Lone Star Park's Fall
Bolstered by the return of the MBNA America Challenge
Championships and Texas’ first million-dollar horse race, Lone Star
Park at Grand Prairie concluded its sixth annual Fall Meeting of Champions
on Saturday (Nov. 30) with relatively the same total handle from figures
posted in 2001. A total of $26.0 million was wagered at the 33-night American
Quarter Horse meeting, off just 0.4% from the $26.1 million a year ago.
The average daily handle at the Dallas-Fort Worth area racetrack was
$788,000 compared to $791,000 in 2001. A total of $6.3 million was wagered
by on-track customers and another $19.6 million was bet off-track at simulcast
outlets across North America. Off-track wagers jumped 1.7% to $596,000
daily, whereas on-track betting slipped 6.3% to $192,000 each day.
Lone Star Park, which conducted live racing from Oct. 4 through Nov.
30, switched from an extended 11-week meeting to a more compact nine-week
season in 2002. Both the 2001 and ’02 meetings featured 33 nights
of racing, but this year’s schedule was four nights a week (Wednesday
through Saturday night) compared to three days a week (Thursday through
Saturday night) last year.
The substitution of eight Wednesday cards in 2002 for programs which
were run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings in 2001 provided horsemen
with ample racing opportunities, but resulted in minor declines in on-track
attendance and handle on live dates. More than 144,200 patrons passed
through the Lone Star Park turnstiles for a daily average of 4,372, down
4.8% from the 4,590 in 2001.
“After discussions with our horsemen, we felt it was necessary
to move from a three-night racing week to four nights a week,” said
Lone Star Park Executive Vice President and General Manager Jeff Greco.
“The move provided our horsemen with better racing opportunities
per week, and we think that showed in the quality of our racing product.
Because of the transition, we knew there would be some softness in our
business, but we’re pleased with business growth on featured nights
like Fridays and Saturdays. It’s a good formula which we are confident
we can improve upon.”
The daily average attendance and handle on Fridays and Saturdays was
up considerably from recorded figures in 2001. Friday’s attendance
and on-track live handle jumped 6.0% and 7.2%, respectively (a daily average
of 4,800 and $220,200 over nine dates compared to 4,500 and $205,400 over
11 dates in 2001). Saturday nights were even more prosperous with a 11.8%
increase in attendance and a 11.8% jump in handle (6,300 and $279,800
over nine dates versus 5,700 and $250,300 over 11 dates a year ago). Off-track
business was even stronger with averages of $709,900 on Fridays and $693,300
on Saturdays, gains of 7.7% and 13.6%, respectively.
“This has been a great year for Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie,”
Greco said. “We’ve become part of the Magna Entertainment
Corp. family, we’re moving forward with plans to host the 2004 Breeders’
Cup World Thoroughbred Championships and business has been healthy. We
had successful Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse seasons and there’s
been record simulcast wagering in our Post Time Pavilion. Just last month,
we had a Breeders’ Cup Day record crowd and handle (9,800 and $2.3
million in simulcast wagers on Oct. 26) and set an all-time October record
with more than $14.7 million in simulcast-in business. We are going to
work hard to keep the momentum moving forward through the rest of the
year and into 2003.”
The $2.3 million in simulcast wagers on Breeders’ Cup Day was a
facility record for the 5-year-old racetrack. Other records were challenged
during the Fall Meeting of Champions. Wagering on Lone Star Park’s
action-packed MBNA America Challenge Championships program totaled $1.5
million, largely due to $1.1 million in off-track wagers. Both figures
ranked second all-time during the American Quarter Horse season.
Also, the first million-dollar horse race in Texas was staged closing
night, as Capones Vault won the $1,061,703 Texas Classic Futurity.