By almost any measure, Keeneland Race Course reversed its recent trend of betting declines since it abandoned a synthetic main track in favor of dirt racing.
Average daily betting on Keeneland’s 16-day Spring Meet increased 16.05 percent to $9.1 million. The total handle — benefitting from an extra day thanks to Easter falling in March (Keeneland doesn’t race on Easter) — increased 23.79 percent to $145.59 million.
The average on-track handle was up as well, even if the crowds weren’t. The average daily on-track handle increased 4.39 percent to $1.12 million. The on-track betting overall — with the extra day — increased 11.35 percent to $17.97 million.
The average daily attendance fell 1.85 percent to 16,387, although with the extra day the overall attendance increased 4.69 percent to 262,197.
Following those themes, the 20,848 crowd on a chilly Toyota Blue Grass Stakes day was about half of what it might have been — but wagering of $21.74 million that day set a Keeneland record (excluding last year’s Breeders’ Cup Saturday at the track). Keeneland made up for a good bit of that with a 38,863 crowd the following weekend on Coolmore Lexington Stakes day (the day that used to be Blue Grass day before it was moved to the meet’s opening weekend to attract better Kentucky Derby contenders).
“The momentum from last fall’s Breeders’ Cup carried forward to this spring and contributed to so many positives during this race meet,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said in a statement.