By Jim Freer and Barry Unterbrink
Average daily all-sources handle at this year’s Gulfstream Park West thoroughbred meet was approximately $3.52 million, down only one percent from the 2015 meet’s average of $3.56 million, according to HorseRacingFLA’s review of Equibase charts.
For the third straight October-November, Gulfstream Park held the GP West meet at Calder Casino in Miami Gardens under a lease of its racing operations.
Even amid this year’s problems with logistics at Calder and weather disruptions, daily handle almost matched that of 2015.
The 2016 GP West meet ran 37 race days, from Oct. 8 to Nov. 27. The 2015 GP West meet had 40 days. The 2014 GP West meet had 43 days and average all-sources handle of $3.0 million.
GP West all-sources handle (also known as total handle) was $142,233,760 in 2015 and $130,072,079 in 2016.
Breakdowns of live handle and other components of handle were not readily available.
We expect that Gulfstream this week will release that data. The average number of starters this year decreased just slightly from 8.4 to 8.1 .
All-sources handle consists of bets on a track’s races from these sources: live on-track; simulcast betting from other pari-mutuels and off-track betting (OTB) locations; Internet and phone Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) services; Nevada sports books; and sports books in designated off-shore jurisdictions.
From our viewpoint, it was impressive that GP West average daily all-source handle fell just 1 percent this year, considering these circumstances:
*Amid ongoing demolition in the racing area at Calder, there were no covered structures for fans. There were just eight automated betting machines, and the only two mutuel clerks were walk-arounds.
*Gulfstream cancelled the first three scheduled GP Wesr race days (Oct. 5 to Oct. 7) when the entire state of Florida was under a state of emergency because of the threat of Hurricane Matthew.
* The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering did not require Gulfstream to make up those dates. That regulatory agency determined that 37 race days enabled Churchill Downs Inc., Calder’s parent company, to meet its requirement of 40 race dates at Calder in order for it to retain its license for the casino at Calder.
*Twenty-one races were taken off turf due to weather conditions this year, compared with nine in 2015.
Gulfstream will open its 2016-2017 championship meet this Saturday at its track in Hallandale Beach.
Gulfstream had a record $9.5 million in average daily all-sources handle for its 2015 – 2016 championship meet. That was up 14 percent from $8.1 million for the 2014 – 2015 championship meet.