Oaklawn Celebrates Record-Setting Handle On Opening Weekend

Oaklawn’s opening weekend of racing was highlighted by records for pari-mutuel handle and the second-highest attendance for the month since January racing began more than 30 years ago.

According to figures released by the track, estimated total attendance for the first three racing dates (Jan. 24-26) was 57,500, a 3.6 percent increase over the corresponding period last year. Total off-track handle of $12,787,682.84 increased 13.1 percent. Total mutuel handle of $15,400,631.44 – money wagered on Oaklawn’s races – represented a 7.7 percent increase.

Opening-day records were set for off-track handle ($4,759,768) and total handle ($5,789,986.10). The off-track figure also eclipsed the previous January record ($4,629,703.63), set last year.

“What a great weekend to start the 2020 race season,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “Many thanks go out to our equine athletes, the owners, trainers and jockeys for putting the best racing on the track. And, a huge thank you to all our team members for enhancing the fan experience. We’re looking forward to an amazing race meet.”

Fueled by Oaklawn’s popular price rollback promotion (corned beef sandwiches were 50 cents), Jan. 25 attendance was an estimated 30,000. Oaklawn’s record attendance for January (32,288) was set in 1988, the first year to race in that month. An Oaklawn official said 11,000 corned beef sandwiches were sold Jan. 25. Oaklawn estimates attendance after waiving admission in 2015.

Oaklawn’s robust early numbers weren’t lost on trainer Tom Amoss, even though he was roughly 500 miles away. Lured by purses projected to average more than $600,000 daily, the Fair Grounds-based Amoss has a 10-horse division this year in Hot Springs. His first starter at the meet, Lewys Vaporizer, was a blowout winner before an estimated crowd of 20,000 opening day.

“I was watching Lewys Vaporizer run opening day on TVG and they panned the crowd,” Amoss said. “You just don’t see that anywhere else in the nation, except for maybe Saratoga and Keeneland. Both of those are little boutique meets. This is not. I see racing’s future right there in Hot Springs, quite frankly.”

Oaklawn’s scheduled 57-day meeting runs until May 2.

The post Oaklawn Celebrates Record-Setting Handle On Opening Weekend appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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