Golden Gate Fields saw another strong increase in all sources handle at its 2018-19 Winter/Spring Meet, which concluded on Sunday, June 9. The 94-day meeting, which began on Dec. 26, was highlighted by a successful edition of the inaugural Gold Rush Weekend in April, and track management and horsemen look forward to continued positive trends and numbers heading into the next live race meet which begins Aug. 15.
To give an idea of the upward trend in handle, something Golden Gate Fields has seen over the past two years, we look back at the last six Winter/Spring meeting all source handle numbers. Golden Gate Fields published an all source handle number of $302 million after the 2014 Winter/Spring meet. The handle decreased slightly in 2015, with $301 million bet on the racing product. And 2016 saw yet another decrease, this one more significant, with $293 million bet throughout the meeting. Two years ago, 2017 saw the lowest all source handle number of the past six Winter/Spring meetings, with a posted number of $282 million.
In 2018, Golden Gate made a number of changes to improve the product, and showed a 13.1% increase in all source handle, with $319 million bet at the Winter/Spring meet last year. The 2019 Winter/Spring meeting generated another bump up in all source handle, with $343 million bet, indicating a 7.3% increase. The comparison from 2018 to 2019 should also include the fact that Golden Gate ran 94 days in 2019 as opposed to 95 days, or one extra day, in 2018.
Another positive gain was in field size, where Golden Gate Fields was able to bump up its average field size to 7.0 horses per race. This is a 2.9 percent increase over 2018.
“Clearly, we are always looking to improve and the combined team effort has resulted in another great meet,” said general manager and Vice President of Golden Gate Fields David Duggan. “We are always committed to improving the racing product and the Golden Gate experience. That said, we are pleased with the position we are in half-way through 2019 and we are very optimistic for the second half of the year and, indeed, racing in Northern California.”
The first-ever Gold Rush Weekend, a two-day racing event featuring 8 stakes races and a number of on-track promotions, was deemed successful after high quality, competitive racing and enthusiastic support from fans and horseplayers resulted in an all source handle number on Saturday and Sunday of $14,077,741, an increase of nearly $6.1 million over the $7,979,824 wagered over the same two days in 2018. A total of 212 horses competed in 25 races over the Gold Rush Weekend, making for an average field size of 8.48 runners per race. Seven horses who competed in stakes on Gold Rush Weekend have come back to win other stakes races since then, while 2 additional horses have hit the board in Grade I races.
Abel Cedillo was the leading jockey at the Winter/Spring meet with 134 wins, 30 more than second place finisher Juan Hernandez. In the trainer standings, Jonathan Wong won his fourth straight training title with a whopping 90 wins, 48 better than Hall of Fame conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. Steve Moger was the leading owner at the meeting with 11 wins from 89 starters. Steve's brother, Ed Moger Jr., trains the Steve Moger owned equines.
Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer of The Stronach Group, was also pleased with the meeting at Golden Gate Fields, and was very appreciative of the participation from horsemen, frontside staff, horseplayers and fans alike.
“On behalf of the Stronach Group, I would like to thank our staff, the horsemen and the fans for working together and contributing to the success of Golden Gate Fields' Winter/Spring meeting,” said Ritvo.
Live racing resumes at Golden Gate Fields on Thursday, August 15, Day 1 of the 28-day Summer Meet which runs through Sunday, September 29. For more information, visit Goldengatefields.com or call (510) 559-7300.
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