Total, average handle increases during Churchill fall meeting
The November 1-29 Fall Meet, the 126th autumn racing session in Churchill Downs' 141-year history, featured strong results in wagering and attendance categories following 2014's weather-shortened 24-day Fall Meet that lost two racing days to a frozen main track.
Despite three fewer race days, total mutual handle during the meet was $104,626,990, an increase of 9.9 percent from the 2014 total of $95,225,065. Average daily wagering rose 25.6 percent to $4,982,238 from the 2014's daily average betting of $3,967,711.
Churchill Downs ran 27 fewer races over 21 racing days in 2015 than during last year's 24-day Fall Meet, but total purses paid during the just-completed meet rose 14.7 percent to $9,882,559 from 2014's total of $8,617,939. Daily purses for the 2015 Fall Meet averaged $470,598, an increase of 31.1 percent from last year's daily average of $359,081. The average purse for the 223 races conducted during the just-completed meet was $44,315, an increase of 28.6 percent from the average of $34,472 for the 250 races in the 2014 session.
Average starters-per-race during the 2015 Fall Meet was 9.41, an increase of 10.3 percent from last fall's average of 8.53 runners.
Total on-track attendance for the Fall Meet, with three fewer racing days than a year ago, dropped 9.2 percent from 113,951 to 103,483. But daily average attendance rose slightly to 4,928, a 3.8 percent increase from 2014's daily average crowd of 4,748.
"Our Fall Meet was a joy for our on-track fans and those who wagered online via TwinSpires.com or other platforms, and the meet's strong and competitive race fields, favorable weather and successful renewals of our traditional Thanksgiving Weekend racing and entertainment events combined for a memorable 21 days at Churchill Downs," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs.
The human races during the just-completed Fall Meet were all won by familiar and accomplished faces.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey extended their record for "Leading Owner" titles at Churchill Downs to 25 as horses carrying their familiar red-and-white silks won nine races from 46 starters. Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. was the runner-up in the category with six wins from 19 starters.
Steve Asmussen collected his record-extending 17th "Leading Trainer" crown with 11 victories, three more than second-place Chris Richard.
Corey Lanerie continued a remarkable run atop the talent-laden jockey colony when he piloted 33 winners in a runaway performance that earned the Louisiana-born rider his 10th "Leading Jockey" title at the track. Ricardo Santana Jr. was second with 21 winners.
Live racing will return to Churchill Downs with its 38-day 2016 Spring Meet, scheduled to run from April 30-July 1.
(Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer photography)