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TOTAL MUTUEL HANDLE SHOWS SIGNIFICANT INCREASE, ON-TRACK ATTENDANCE, HANDLE UP AT SANTA ANITA, POSITIVE INDICATORS BODE WELL FOR 2012 BREEDERS’ CUP
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 22, 2012)—Santa Anita Park, which will host the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Nov. 2 and 3, capped its 75th winter/spring season on Sunday with gains in on-track attendance, handle and overall pari-mutuel handle.
Santa Anita’s out-of-state business was robust, propelling The Great Race Place to finish up with a seven percent increase in total pari-mutuel handle. On-track handle and attendance were up one percent over 2011, as more than 580,000 fans attended the races at Santa Anita this meet.
“This is our first winter/spring meet under the direction of the Stronach Group,” said Santa Anita C.E.O. Mark Verge. “Our Chairman, Frank Stronach has laid the groundwork for an exciting, vibrant future and we will continue to demonstrate that.
“We promoted very aggressively at this meet and it paid off. Our initial goal was to showcase our five big days and make them bigger, and we did that.
“We had 44,579 here on opening day (Dec. 26) which was a 10 percent increase over the previous year and it was the first time we’ve had more than 40,000 people out for opening day since 1999.
“Sunshine Millions Day (Jan. 28) was also big for us. We had an on-track crowd of 30,514, which far outdid what any other track in the country did on that day.
“Strub Stakes Day (Feb. 4) was a home run as well,” continued Verge. “Our all-sources handle was $15 million, which was three percent increase over last year. The Santa Anita Handicap Day (March 3) on-track crowd was up 10 percent over last year.
“Santa Anita Derby Day (April 7) was outstanding and people were impressed with the energy and the excitement we had throughout the track. The Derby itself was an incredible race and we want to congratulate (owner) Paul Reddam, (trainer) Doug O’Neill and their entire team on the job they did with the winner I’ll Have Another. This is what people expect when they come to Santa Anita--great racing, great customer service and a feeling that we’ve got something very special going on here.
“We got very aggressive with our Late Pick Four guarantee of $750,000 on Derby Day and the result was a total pool of $992,000, which was the biggest Pick Four pool of the meet and our overall handle of $17.8 million was very strong as well.”
The 72-day meet produced a total of 22 Pick Six carryovers, the largest being a two-day carryover of $430,581 on Big ‘Cap Day, which resulted in a massive total Pick Six pool on Sunday, March 4, of $3,110,484. Santa Anita continues to be the nation’s Pick Six leader, evidenced by the closing day Pick Six pool of $575,980.
Jockey Joel Rosario dominated his competition in the rider standings, winning his second consecutive Santa Anita title with 89 wins, 17 clear of Rafael Bejarano. Rosario finished second in stakes-won with nine added money tallies. Mike Smith finished on top with 11 stakes wins, including the Grade II Potrero Grande Handicap, which provided him with his 5,000th career win.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert breezed to his record 10th Santa Anita training title, winning 46 races, seven more than runner up John Sadler. Baffert was also the leading stakes-winning trainer, winning eight, three more than Sadler and Ron Ellis.
Hronis Racing LLC led all owners by races won, with 10 victories.
“We’d like to congratulate our leading owners, trainers and jockeys and thank them for their commitment during this meet,” said Verge. “We’d also like to sincerely thank our fans for all of their support and commitment. They are the reason we are in business and our customers will continue to be our top priority.
“We have the most beautiful racing venue in the world and we’re proud of the fact we made many new friends at this meet. We’re continually striving to make the on-track experience here at Santa Anita an unforgettable one—each and every time our fans visit us.
“We look forward to our Autumn Meet and to hosting the Breeders’ Cup for the sixth time in November. It’ll be an honor to showcase this magnificent facility and to put on another world-class show on NBC.”