2010 Monmouth Elite Summer Meet Shows Dramatic Gains in Average Mutuel Handle, Attendance and Field Size

Monday, September 6, 2010

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Monmouth Park’s 2010 Elite Summer Meet, which began as an experiment on May 22, finished as a total triumph on September 6, with triple-digit gains in average mutuel handle and double-digit gains in average attendance and average field size.

            During the 49-day Elite Meet, Monmouth offered the highest daily purses in the nation ($797,079), resulting in larger fields of better quality horses. (The 50th day of the Elite Meet will be run on Sept. 18, as part of the Fall Meet).

Racing just three days a week (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays plus three holiday Mondays), the 2010 stand surpassed last year’s 82-day meet (through Labor Day 2009) in total betting and on-track wagering.

            “We were cautiously optimistic that this kind of boutique meeting would work,” said Dennis Robinson, president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, “but I don’t think any of us expected a blockbuster like this. The fans and the horsemen made this a meeting to remember.”

            Total betting at Monmouth this year hit $389,550,798, an 87 percent spike above last year’s total of $208,390,601 for 82 days. On-track handle totaled $37,558,779 for 49 days this year, topping last season’s $35,050,572 for 82 days.

            The averages skyrocketed across the board. Average daily handle of $7,950,016 represented an incredible 213 percent gain over last year. Average on-track handle of $766,506 was 79 percent higher than last year’s average of $427,446. Average attendance this year hit 10,651, a rise of 47 percent over last year.

            Field size, a crucial factor in attracting increased wagering, jumped 25 percent this year, as 2010 fields averaged 9.28 runners per race, as opposed to 7.44 last year.

            “The dramatic increase in field size is one of the most critical factors in our increased business,” Robinson said. “The fans responded enthusiastically to the larger fields the way we hoped they would.”

            Day-to-day comparisons of this year’s racing schedule to last year’s business on the comparable days (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays) yields similar greatly improved figures.

            Monmouth’s total average daily handle of $7,950,016, represented a jump of 114 percent over the similar days last year. Average on-track handle of $766,506 this year, showed a gain of 42 percent over last year. Track average attendance of 10,651 this meet, was a gain of 16 percent over last year.

            Once again, Haskell Day provided the biggest afternoon of the meet. A crowd of 40,904 helped set an all-time betting record for the IZOD Haskell Invitational (G1), with $4,463,736 wagered on the race, which was won by Lookin at Lucky.

            Total handle for the 14-race card hit $17,442,170 – the second highest ever for a non-Breeders’ Cup program, and just a shade below the 2008 mark of $17,642,955 when $4,257,409 was bet on the Haskell.

            The race for leading trainer at the Elite Meet went right down to the wire and resulted in a three-way tie as Bruce Alexander, Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen each captured 20 races.

            Paco Lopez, with 69 victories, held off a fast closing Elvis Trujillo (67 wins) to take his first Monmouth title.

            George and Lori Hall’s horses, trained by Kelly Breen, won 13 races at the meet to earn them the owners’ title.

Elite Meet Statistics
  2009 2010 % Change
  82 days (through Labor Day) 49 days (through Labor Day)  
Total On-Track Handle $35,050,572             $37,558,779 7.16%
Total Simulcasting Handle $173,340,029 $351,992,019 103.06%
Total Handle $208,390,601 $389,550,798 86.93%
Total Attendance 595,763 521,925 -12.39%
  2009 2010  
  49 days (comparable to dates in 2010) 49 days (through Labor Day)  
Total On-Track Handle $26,365,568 $37,558,779 42.45%
Total Simulcasting Handle $156,491,698 $351,992,019 124.93%
Total Handle $182,857,266 $389,550,798 113.04%
Total Attendance 451,491 521,925 15.60%