ARCADIA, Calif. (May 25, 2018)–Due to a $70 million increase in overall pari-mutuel handle dating back to Dec. 26, Santa Anita Park has announced a 10 percent increase in overnight purses, effective Friday, June 1, through closing day, Sunday, June 24.
“The fact that we’re up $70 million in handle is obviously very gratifying and there are several factors involved, including field size, which is very important,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer for The Stronach Group (TSG). “We’ve seen an increase of a half a horse per race, so that has certainly helped. Considering where we were at from an economic standpoint a year ago, it’s gratifying to be able to card 18 additional races over the same time period and still be in a very good position in terms of our purse account.
“We appreciate the cooperation we’ve received from the TOC (Thoroughbred Owners of California), the CTT (California Thoroughbred Trainers), our staff and most importantly, the economic engine that drives our business, our fans here in Southern California and around the country.
“We want to sincerely thank all of them for betting on our races and we acknowledge one of our biggest challenges is to continually improve our product and thereby provide better and better gambling opportunities. We look forward to this purse increase being the first of many more such increases in the future.”
For his part, Nick Alexander, one of California’s most active owners and breeders and current TOC Chairman, was supportive of the upcoming purse hike.
“The TOC welcomes the 10 percent purse increase for the remainder of the Santa Anita meet,” he said. “We want to extend our congratulations to Tim Ritvo and his team for their excellent work in revitalizing the Santa Anita racing product and for the increased handle we’re seeing nationwide.”
Dating back to Dec. 26, several big days and events have been instrumental in Santa Anita’s strong Winter/Spring showing. Most recently, all sources handle on Preakness Day, May 19, of $20,030,222, represented a 26 percent increase over last year. On-track attendance on Preakness Day of 23,428 was a 17 percent increase and on-track handle of $3,185,095 marked a 16 percent increase over last year.
Additionally, Santa Anita’s popular Michelada Festival in the Infield on Preakness Day attracted more than 10,000 fans and two days of live money handicapping tournaments over Preakness weekend generated more than $1 million in on-track handle.
With Santa Anita Derby winner Justify winning the Kentucky Derby on May 5, Santa Anita’s all sources handle of $19,818,707 was up three percent over last year, while on-track attendance of 26,121 was up 10 percent. On-track handle on Kentucky Derby Day was up 10 percent, with $3,606,064 wagered at The Great Race Place.
Santa Anita Derby Day, April 7, resulted in a dramatic 16 percent increase in all sources handle, as $24,170,879 was wagered–the biggest Santa Anita Derby Day all sources handle since 2007. On-track attendance of 39,023 was up eight percent from a year ago (biggest Santa Anita Derby Day crowd in eight years) and Derby Day handle of $3,494,979 was up seven percent.
First post time for the remainder of the Santa Anita meet will be at 12:30 p.m., with the exception of Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday, June 9, when first live race post time will be at 12 noon.