Non-Derby Wagering Record Set On Rebel Day; Oaklawn Handled $10.7 Million

Total pari-mutuel wagering handle on Saturday's races at Oaklawn was a record for March and a non-Arkansas Derby Day, Bobby Geiger, the track's director of gaming and wagering, said Thursday morning. Oaklawn handled $10,752,313.15 –  $8,544,041.15 was bet off track – on the 11-race card that featured three stakes, including the $900,000 Rebel (G2), a major Triple Crown prep.

“Very good day,” said David Longinotti, Oaklawn's director of racing.

The previous record handle for a non-Arkansas Derby Day – total wagering strictly on Oaklawn races – was $10,423,481.12 April 5, 2003. The 12-race card, dubbed “Million Dollar Saturday,” was highlighted by the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares and the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses. Both races featured heavy favorites (reigning Horse of the Year Azeri in the Apple Blossom and multiple graded stakes winner Medaglia d'Oro in the Oaklawn Handicap), which triggered massive show wagering, particularly off track, because Oaklawn still offered $2.20 minimum payouts.

Geiger said off-track wagering Saturday was boosted by Oaklawn's new Pick-5 wager (last five races), which replaced the CLASSIX this year. The CLASSIX (races 3-8) was Oaklawn's version of the Pick-6.

Pick-5 wagering Saturday, the sequence included the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares, $250,000 Essex Handicap for older horses and the Rebel, was $301,091.84, Geiger said. Of that total, $280,325.84 was bet off track.

Pick-6 wagering on Million Dollar Saturday in 2003 – the bet was anchored by the Apple Blossom, but didn't include the Oaklawn Handicap – was $13,244.

“That's your margin,” Geiger said.

Rebel Day has become Oaklawn's second-biggest business day of the season.

Saturday also yielded meet highs for attendance (estimated 36,000) and on-track mutuel handle ($2,208,272) and straight wagering (win, place and show) on the Rebel was $1,292,653, just off the record $1,294,310, set in 2005.

“Rebel Day has become huge,” Geiger said. “They were good wagering races, the stakes were. And the Pick-5 has performed magnificently.”

Saturday's estimated attendance was the largest for Rebel Day since 2010. Attendance and on-track mutuel handle increased 2.9 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, over last year. Off-track handle and total handle were up 22 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively, over 2016.

Estimated attendance for last year's Rebel Day was 35,000. Total handle was $9,124,971.68, with $7,002,869.98 wagered off track.

Oaklawn's daily record handle of $14,536,965 was set April 15, 2000 (Arkansas Derby Day).

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