By Jim Freer
Now that it has stopped racing head-to-head with Calder Casino & Race Course, Gulfstream Park is generating some impressive and expected increases in its handle and field sizes.
Gulfstream’s all-sources handle fot July is approaching an average $4 million a day–up about 30 percent from last month. The average field size, under eight some days last month, could hit ten for this week.
The two South Florida tracks signed their landmark race dates agreement on July 1. Their last head-to-head racing day was Sunday June 29.
For its eight race days this month, Gulfstream is averaging $3.9 million in daily all-sources handle. A review of Equibase Co. charts for the second half of June shows Gulfstream with average handle in the $3 million range and Calder in the $900,000 range.
Rather than both tracks racing Fridays through Sundays, for a total of six race cards, South Florida’s only Thoroughbred racing is now Thursdays through Sundays at Gulfstream.
There are fewer races, the overall quality is better and there are more horses per race. That has led to more interest from bettors, at Gulfstream and at other tracks and home computers around the country.
This past weekend of July 11 to July 13, Gulfstream had average daily all-sources handle of $4.3 million. Gulfstream had 30 races over the three days with an average of 9.6 starters per race. It averaged about eight horses per race during the second half of last month.
Last weekend’s average wagering per day on Gulfstream races was 59 percent higher than its $2.7 million on the June 27 to June 29 weekend–the last during which Calder also had racing.
“Our field sizes have quickly grown over the last two weeks and are the largest in the country this weekend,” Gulfstream Park President Tim Ritvo said on Friday July 11. “Now that we are racing four days a week, we expect the quality of our racing to continue growing with our weekend stakes.”
Breakdowns are not readily available for Gulfstream on live handle, betting at other tracks and advance deposit wagering.
Gulfstream’s summer meet will extend until Oct. 4. Racing will move to Calder for two months from Oct. 7 to Nov.30, with Gulfstream running the meet under its lease agreement.
This is Gulfstream’s second summer of racing, and first without same day competition from Calder.
Partly due to the popularity of its brand name for simulcast bettors. Gulfstream is approaching the well-entrenched Monmouth Park in handle. Monmouth, in Oceanport. N.J., had average daily all-sources handle of $4.8 million last weekend.
Gulfstream’s $4.3 million average was one of its best for a weekend since this past April. Gulfstream had average daily all-sources handle of $8.3 million for its 2013-14 winter meet.
A big test of Gulfstream’s summer popularity with bettors around the country will start when Saratoga begins its annual meet this Friday.
Gulfstream will compete with sheer numbers, and with at least one stakes race each Saturday.
There are 1,250 horses stabled at Gulfstream and 450 at Calder. Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s affiliate training center in Boynton Beach is closed for resurfacing until early September.
This Thursday, Gulfstream will have nine races with 108 entries including also eligibles and main track only runners. On Friday, it will have nine races with 102 entries including AE and MTO runners. First post is 1:25 p.m. each day.