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ZENYATTA, BREEDERS' CUP KEY STRONG OAK TREE FINISH, ATTENDANCE, HANDLE IMPACTED BY SLOW ECONOMY
Held for an unprecedented second consecutive year at the same venue, the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships attracted a total of 96,496 fans on-track, up from 82,578 last year, for an increase of 17 percent. Friday’s attendance of 37,651 was an increase of 20 percent over last year’s day-one crowd of 31,257.
“We are obviously very pleased with the way we were able to finish up this week,” said Oak Tree Director and Executive Vice President Sherwood Chillingworth. “The Breeders’ Cup on both Friday and Saturday exceeded our expectations across the board. The fact that Zenyatta’s connections chose to run in the Classic on Saturday set the table for what has got to be one of the most successful Breeders’ Cups of all-time and a performance that no one who was here will ever forget.”
Compared to last year, on-track handle for the Breeders’ Cup increased both days, despite the fact there was one less race carded on each day. Friday’s on-track handle of $7,097,789 was up 3.6 percent over last year and Saturday’s on-track take of $12,177,982 was up three percent over 2008’s figure.
The common pool handle for Saturday’s 10-race card was $98,489,877, a decrease of six percent from last year’s 11-race program. The $49,875,648, wagered on Friday was a one percent increase over the 2008 10-race Friday card. This year’s two-day common pool total was $148,365,525, down from last year’s $155,740,328.
As was the case last year, Oak Tree’s Pro-Ride synthetic main track performed flawlessly on racing’s biggest stage.
“We had zero injuries on the main track over the two-day Breeders’ Cup,” said Chillingworth. “The main track played fair and safe, and we just can’t ask for anything more than that. I want to congratulate our Track Superintendant, Rich Tedesco, and his crew for doing such an outstanding job. As we did last year, we had a safe, competitive two-day event on national television (ESPN and ABC) and that is certainly huge for us and for the sport.”
A challenging local and national economy contributed to significant declines in attendance and handle throughout the 31-day meeting which began on Sept. 30. Average daily on-track attendance declined by 11 percent, while on-track handle was down 16 percent. All sources handle was down 15 percent.
Santa Anita Park will be open for simulcast wagering beginning Wednesday and throughout the Hollywood Park Fall live race meeting, which begins on Friday.
Live racing returns to Arcadia on Dec. 26, opening day of Santa Anita’s traditional winter/spring meeting.