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Jan 07, 2011

Fall meet at Hawthorne was for the good

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The 2010 fall race meet at Hawthorne Race Course closed with a significant increase in overall handle. The suburban Chicago track had a rise of better than seven percent over 2009's figures.

"This fall was a meet about recovery, and setting ourselves up for the future," stated Assistant General Manager Jim Miller. "We entered the meet with a large purse overpayment to recoup while trying to provide the best racing opportunities possible. To the credit of our horsemen, they provided great support of our racing program which led to our increase in handle. Because of the proactive measures that we took this fall, we are now set up to race for higher purses while offering better quality in races when racing returns for our spring meet."

The numbers show that the average daily handle for the meet was $2,768,612 compared to $2,567,856 in 2009. The increase came about from a solid boost in off-track wagering.

The average daily on-track handle dropped slightly from $110,612 in 2009 to $107,114 this fall. Some of the decline can be attributed to the absence of Sunday racing.

Unlike 2009 however, 2010 had the benefit of good weather. None of the turf races had to be switched to the main track due to rain. There was an average field of more than 10 starters per grass race in the just completed meet and overall the average field size per race was 9.77.

"We had many objectives that we needed to accomplish this meet on and off track," stated Hawthorne President Tim Carey. "This fall we were able to see the track's and horsemen's groups unify on the legislative front which is a major positive. At the same time, we needed to recognize that the health of the racing industry in Illinois was dependant upon this fall meet. With a strong fall meet, we were able to accomplish many of the goals necessary to succeed in 2011 and beyond."

The successful Hawthorne fall meet followed on the heels of a similar one at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.

The historic track on the Jersey shore, had an 'Elite Summer Meet' which lasted 49 days followed by its 22-day fall meet.

Monmouth Park, in conjunction with Izod, put on a summer racing program that had an average daily purse of $797,079. An eye popping increase of 213 percent in average daily handle surpassed any possible number management could have come up with.

"It's clear that concentrating thoroughbred racing at Monmouth Park proved a very wise investment," said Dennis Robinson, president and CEO of the NJSEA. "Not only did we realize dramatic gains in all categories, we substantially reduced our operating costs by shifting all thoroughbred racing to Monmouth."

During the 2010 Elite Meet, Monmouth Park had an on-track handle increase of 79 percent with attendance going up by 47 percent. The fall campaign saw an average daily handle of $3,841,848 with the average on-track handle of $299,778.

In 2009 there was 140 days of thoroughbred racing between Monmouth Park and The Meadowlands. For 2010 all thoroughbred racing was conducted at Monmouth with 71 programs.

The 2010 Haskell Invitational drew more than 40,000 spectators to the track, with $4,463,736 bet on the 1 1/8-mile race for three-year-olds. Preakness Stakes champ Lookin at Lucky ran away from the field to practically assure him being named 2010 three-year-old male champion.

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