May 21, 2012
Gulfstream Park recently concluded their most successful race meet ever from a horsemen’s prospective. Overnight purses paid during the 87 day meet just missed hitting the $300,000 per day level with actual total overnights paid at $299,991. Last year during a 79 day meet, average paid overnights were $274,547. Total daily purses paid for the 2011/2012 meet were $405,971 while those paid for the 2011 meet were $383,979.
For the first time ever Gulfstream Park ran dates that began in December. In the past Gulfstream had run from early January until late April, but this year they opened on December 3rd and ended April 8th. Gulfstream handled $50,663,434 on their live on track product, up significantly from last year’s $47,477,635, but their average daily handle was down slightly from last year’s $600,983 to $582,338 this year. The total handle on the live Gulfstream signal in ITW (IntraTrack Wagering) was up almost $5 million or a daily average of $407,949 this year compared to last year’s average of $385,854. Gulfstream’s ISW (InterState Wagering) handle almost hit $600 million for a daily average of $6,823,950 compared to last year’s average of $6,549,444.
Starters per race was a healthy 9.24, although down slightly from last year’s 9.52. This decrease may have been due to the average carding of 10.5 races this year against 10.0 races per day last year. Gulfstream ran an incredible 392 turf races in this meet which was up dramatically from last year’s 334 races on the grass. Days where races were carded sloppy or muddy were almost identical with 8 last year and 7 in 2012.
Gulfstream’s December handle numbers were much higher than those handle numbers from past Decembers, but there were no other Gulfstream handle numbers from past years with which to compare. This left me with only a January to early April comparison to make any sense out of this year’s handle numbers. I matched the same 68 race days conducted from January 5th this year against the same 68 days last year from January to April. The numbers turned out very similar to those handle numbers for the entire meet. On track live wagering was down about 3% while ITW and ISW wagering were both up about 3.6 % from last year.
The number that improved the most during this period was the handle on the full card or out-of-state signals wagered on in ITW land, or the rest of Florida. Gulfstream cleverly took on Tampa Bay Downs, which this year operated during the same dates as Gulfstream, in a battle to sell these out-of-state signals into ITW land. Florida Statutes dictate a minimum percentage that can be held by guest sites on these wagers on out-of-state signals that only can be obtained or bought through one of the currently operating thoroughbred tracks. Tampa Bay Downs had always allowed these guest sites to retain a higher percentage of the wagering in order to incentivize a guest to buy the signal through Tampa and not through the operating South Florida track, whether it be Calder or Gulfstream. Each year the signals bought through Calder or Gulfstream would drop about 20% as guests bought the signals through Tampa. This year Gulfstream was able to increase the wagering on out-of-state wagering on her signal by 17% over last year’s wagering handle.
For the fifth year in a row, Gulfstream Park sported wagering numbers that were up from the previous year, but this year they ended their successful 87 day race meet on a sour note. In the last “race” of the year, Gulfstream satisfied their lawyer/lobbyist and part owner in the Gretna Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing site, by permitting two barrel racers to race 220 yards down the stretch from the drop of a flag. This was a “race “ not sanctioned by American Quarter Horse Association and a race for which an entry to compete was accepted on race day after one of the original Quarter Horses was found to have no tattoo and was scratched. I did not include the $1,758 wagered on this “race” in any of the above handle totals.
May 21, 2012