Santa Anita Park Opening Day Attendance Down 9% Following Rain Storm
Santa Anita Park Publicity Dir Mike Willman said that on-track attendance on opening day Wednesday "was recorded at 27,273 this year, compared to last year's 55,000-plus attendees," according to Brenda Gazzar of the SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE. Willman credited the drop in attendance to early rain on Wednesday, as well as last year's opening day taking place on a Monday, "when most people had the day off." Despite the showers, most of the "storm clouds cleared well in advance of the first post at noon." Racetrack officials said that they were "grateful the weather ultimately broke in their favor" as they waited to "see how badly the forecast of rain would affect opening day attendance" (SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, 12/27). DAILY RACING FORM's Jay Privman noted on-track attendance was "down 9.1 percent from the last time Santa Anita opened on a Wednesday, in 2007." The overall handle Wednesday was "$13,494,676, a decrease of 13.1 percent from last year’s $15,531,307." Santa Anita President & GM George Haines said, "For opening on a Wednesday, we had a great crowd. ... I'm very happy with how everything turned out, considering what it was like here from 3 in the morning until 7." Musician Gene Simmons, a friend of the Stronach family, which owns Santa Anita, was "out and about greeting fans both in the morning and then at the afternoon’s races, when he presented the trophy following the Malibu." Although he has "no official title, Simmons is clearly acting in an advisory capacity with the track, seeking to raise its profile in the clutter of sports marketing" (DRF.com, 12/26).
SUNSHINE STAKES: BLOODHORSE.com's Jim Freer reported Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino & Race Course have "started the annual process of picking racing dates, with Gulfstream stirring up yet another dispute by saying it plans to expand its four-month schedule to 'year-round racing' starting in 2014." Racing dates are "set through June 30, 2013 for the two southeast Florida tracks, which are eight miles apart." Florida tracks have "until Feb. 28 to give the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering their lists of proposed race dates for the 12 months between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014." That schedule could be "changed dramatically with the unwelcome prospect of some days of head-to-head racing if Gulfstream carries out anything close to its ambitious plan." Gulfstream now has live racing from "early December through early April -- southeast Florida's prime winter season." Calder has live racing "the other eight months." Gulfstream President & GM Tim Ritvo said that the change "would involve having races at least several days most weeks each year from early 2014 onward." Ritvo added that Gulfstream would "continue to race five days a week during its winter season." Gulfstream "will end its 2012-2013 race meet on April 5." Calder will "open the following day and has dates through June 30, 2013" (BLOODHORSE.com, 12/26).