Turfway Park releases results of fewer race days

Compressing Turfway Park's winter and spring meet into fewer days of racing per week had a noticeable effect on daily betting averages, according to figures released Monday.

The Northern Kentucky track reported an average on-track daily handle of $118,035, up 4.2 percent from 2009's meet, with an average all-sources daily handle of $2,044,036, up 11.5 percent from 2009.

But because there were 17 fewer days of racing than last year, overall handle fell dramatically: on-track handle dropped 24.3 percent to $5,311,571, while all-sources handle dropped 19.1 percent to $91,981,598.

All-sources handle includes bets on Turfway Park races placed at other tracks and off-track betting facilities.

Racetrack president Bob Elliston said the increase in daily averages is "entirely attributable" to the increase in field size that resulted from cutting down on days of racing.

In January and February, Turfway cut back to three days of racing a week; in March, the track ran four days of racing a week.

That pushed the average field size up from 7.9 runners per race in 2009 to 8.6 runners. More runners gives bettors more wagering options and results in increased wagering.

The compression also resulted in higher daily purses, although total purse money fell 25.8 percent to $5,754,751. Daily purses averaged $127,883, up 2.3 percent from last year.

"This year's winter/spring meet was really an experiment, and we will continue to analyze the results against our expectations," Elliston said in a statement. "While we are pleased to see average daily increases in on-track wagering and support from out-of-state outlets, the competitive landscape we're up against and the fact that we're not permitted to meet that competition head-on continues to make it difficult to invest in our business."

Efforts by Kentucky tracks over the winter to win expanded gambling failed in the state legislature.