The Breeders’ Cup World Championships were held as a two-day event for the first time in Oak Tree at Santa Anita history and the results were bullish, as on-track attendance reached 31,257 on Friday and 51,331 on Saturday. All-sources handle on Friday was $47,863,774, and on Saturday all-sources handle reached $107,610,778. The two-day all sources handle of $155,474,553 was a 5 1/2 percent increase over last year.
“Operationally, things went very well and we are extremely proud of the way our employees performed on racing’s biggest stage. Along with that, we once again demonstrated to a national audience that Oak Tree at Santa Anita is, in our opinion, the number-one racing venue in the world.”
With the two-day Breeders’ Cup leading the way, overall attendance and handle figures for the 2008 meeting exceeded last year’s numbers, despite the fact this meet consisted of five fewer racing days. Aside from the Breeders’ Cup, however, comparative attendance and handle figures were down, as on-track attendance declined two percent and on-track mutuel handle was down 14 percent.
“The success of the two-day Breeders’ Cup obviously helped us tremendously, and we feel we can do even better next year,” said Chillingworth. “From opening day (Sept. 24) on, we had great racing and outstanding participation from the horsemen, but the economy unquestionably hurt us considerably prior to and through the Breeders’ Cup.
“People and businesses are hurting across board, and it seems no one is immune to the effects of this troubled economy. The fact that we turned it around here on closing weekend with the Breeders’ Cup is very encouraging, and we are certainly hopeful that we’re going to be operating in a better economic climate next year,” he added.
Sunday’s closing day on-track attendance reached 21,241, a dramatic increase over last year’s closing day figure of 10,904. “Today was Fan Appreciation Day, and I think many of our regular customers came out to enjoy themselves,” said Chillingworth. “This is a great way to finish up, and we want to thank our fans and horsemen who have supported us so consistently. We look forward to our 41st season next year.”
Santa Anita Park will reopen for live racing with its traditional winter/spring meeting on Dec. 26 and will run through April 19, 2008.