INGLEWOOD, Calif. (December 18, 2011)—Field size and the handle on races run at Hollywood Park increased from a year ago during the 26-day Autumn meet, which concluded Sunday.
The handle on races run at Hollywood Park was $151,319,791 compared to $132,933,380 during a comparable six week period in the 2010 season, which began one week earlier and included two days of Breeders’ Cup simulcasts. Average daily live race handle increased by 9.5%.
Complete handle figures – including wagers on import races – will be available after the holiday season.
Hollywood Park will continue to offer simulcast wagering this week from Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, Hawthorne, Parx, Portland Meadows, Tampa Bay Downs, Turf Paradise, Turfway Park and various tracks in South America.
Besides the Hollywood Park Casino – where admission is free – sites open for simulcasts December 19-24 include Barona, Fairplex Park and Los Alamitos. Sycuan will be open December 21-23.
The average field size in 2011 was 7.89 starters per race compared to 7.33 a year ago.
The average daily Southern California attendance on-track attendance declined 5.1% from 9,680 in 2010 to 9,187. The 2010 meet did include a Zenyatta appreciation day (December 5) that attracted a Southern California attendance of 17,868.
“We’re very pleased that wagering on our live product was up over last year,’’ said Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau. “The larger fields definitely contributed to the increase.’’
The final day of the meet featured a record shattering Player’s Pick 5 pool.
Chasing a record carryover of $183,594 generated during the CashCall Futurity program Saturday, bettors wagered an additional $1,226,324 Sunday, creating a total pool of $1,409,917.
The previous high total Pick 5 pool was $907,117 May 12. This followed a carryover of $107,487 on May 8.
A 50-cent minimum bet with a 14% takeout, the Player’s Pick 5 made its debut April 21, opening day of Hollywood Park’s Spring/Summer meet.
There were 635 winning tickets in the Player’s Pick 5 Sunday. Each was worth $1,948.25.
Ultimate Eagle, dismissed at 14-1, completed a memorable Turf Festival for owner B.J. Wright and trainer Mike Pender with his gate-to-wire win in the Grade I Hollywood Derby Nov. 27. The victory came 24 hours after Wright and Pender had taken the Grade II Citation Handicap with Jeranimo, who rebounded after a seventh place finish three weeks earlier in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
The Derby was the fifth and final race of the three-day Turf Festival. Besides Ultimate Eagle and Jeranimo, the other Festival winners included Star Billing (Matriarch), Stoney Fleece (Generous Stakes) and More Than Love (Miesque Stakes).
Oakhart Racing and Benjamin Warren tied for the top spot in the owners’ standings with four wins. In terms of earnings, Arnold Zetcher, who won the Hollywood Prevue with So Brilliant and the Real Quiet and CashCall Futurity with Horse of the Meet Liaison, led with $504,480.
Jockey Joel Rosario won his third Autumn title in a row, finishing with 37 winners, four more than Rafael Bejarano. Both Rosario and Bejarano had four stakes victories. Bejarano finished on top in earnings with $1,690,868.
Mike Mitchell won his third Autumn training title and his seventh overall at Hollywood Park. Mitchell wound up with 18 wins, leaving him two clear of Doug O’Neill and three in front of Bob Baffert, who led the Spring/Summer meet earlier in the year.
The championship was Mitchell’s first locally since he led the Spring/Summer season in 1997.
Baffert, who won the $750,000 CashCall Futurity for a record sixth time – including three in the last four years – was the runaway leader in both stakes victories (five) and earnings ($1,139,180).
The only other trainers who had more than one stakes win were Pender and John Sadler. Each had two. Jerry Hollendorfer was second in earnings with purses totaling $624,870.
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