Monday, August 20, 2012

With Carryover Lifts, Handle Still Rising at Del Mar

Aided by a series of healthy carryovers, handle at Del Mar continued its rise as the summer meet finished up week five with a flourish Sunday.

With a $362,503 carryover in the .50-cent Pick Five and a $240,680 boost to the Pick Six to start off the week, Del Mar’s on-track wagering rose 26% during the five days and completed 25 days of racing at a plus-13.7% with a daily average handle of $2,313,319, as opposed to the 2011 number of $2,033,739.

The handle was further enhanced by Pick Six carryovers on its Saturday and Sunday cards – the double carry reaching $442,770 – helping the overall handle for the week to jump up 19.4% and close week five of seven at plus-6.0%.

Del Mar’s daily average handle through 25 days last year was $11,032,487. This year though 25 cards it is $11,696,306.

The lucrative handle digits virtually ensure that there will be a substantial retroactive purse payment to all runners earning overnight purses throughout the 37-day session.

Attendance continued its trend in a positive direction, though it is still slightly below the 2011 figures. For the fourth week in a row the track saw gains in its daily average attendance and – whereas the daily average number was down 6.4% after the first week of the meet – the current average is now down only 2.8%. The 2012 daily wicket count is 18,312, as opposed to 18,849 a year earlier.

Horse field size continues its lift, coming in at 8.42 per race thus far against 8.20 for an equal period in 2011. “Ship and Win” numbers – the count of out-of-state horses coming to the track to take advantage of a pair of lucrative chances for additional monies – is up to 99 runners after 25 racing days. Last year the “Ship and Win” horse number was 78 at this point, meaning there is a 30% boost in that category.

Del Mar’s jockey and trainer races continue to provide heat, though in the case of the riders jockey Rafael Bejarano is providing most of the fire. The Chilean fireball rang up 10 victories over the five days and now leads the pack with 40 firsts. Garrett Gomez is second with 29 wins and Joe Talamo third with 26. The trainers’ battle sees Doug O’Neill listed in front with 18 triumphs, but he’ll not be able to add any more wins to that total. The conditioner has started a CHRB-mandated suspension and will be out of action for the rest of the meet. Those ready to fill in behind him are Peter Miller with 16 firsts and John Sadler and Bob Baffert, both with 12.

The track’s percentage of winning favorites sits just about right on the classic one-third yardstick at 33.64% after five weeks. In-the-money favorites are right where they’re supposed to be also at a two-third total of 66.82%.

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