Declines in wagering, horses affect Santa Anita
Santa Anita's recently ended 75th annual winter-spring meet was hurt by bad weather that led to cancellations and declines in overall handle and a reduced inventory of horses to run.
Heavy rain in January and February forced the cancellation of five days of racing, including two Saturdays when major stakes races were scheduled.
Track president Ron Charles says uncertainty over whether racing would be held hurt as much as the cancellations. The track's synthetic surface failed to drain properly, leading to cancellations for safety reasons, though Charles says the meet was ``extraordinarily'' safe.
Overall daily average handle for the 78-day meet that ended Sunday declined 11 percent. On-track attendance was down 6 percent, while on-track daily handle dipped 15 percent. Out-of-state daily wagering fell 13 percent.
Charles says the weakened economy, especially in California, was a reason for the declines, but so were the drainage problems and reduced inventory of horses.
The size of fields was 7.9 horses per race, a slight decline from last year's 8.2 horses per race.
Santa Anita reopens for live racing on Sept. 29.