Wednesday, October 26, 2016

GP West Handle Slightly Ahead of 2015 Pace

Despite the logistical nightmare at race site Calder Casino and amid weather-related disruptions, the Gulfstream Park West meet is slightly ahead of last year’s pace in total handle according to research by HorseRacingFLA.                                                                                                                                           And 

And after three weeks, the meet sponsored by Gulfstream Park is ahead by bigger margins in handle per race and field size. But thus far, total race purses are down compared with 2015.
Gulfstream is not commenting on this year’s GP West numbers until later in the meet, which will end Nov. 27.

Our review of Equibase Co. charts shows that GP West this year had average daily all-sources handle (total handle) of $3.31 million for its first thirteen race days, through Sunday Oct. 23.

GP West races had daily average all-sources handle of $3.30 million for the comparable thirteen-day period last year.

Average all-sources handle per race is $355,250 this year. That is an 8.9 percent increase over the average of $329,806 for the same period last year. The number of races was 130 last year and 121 this year.

Race Purses Fall
Total purse sizes fell 17 percent for the brief period
 measured, from about $3.0 million for 13 days in 2015 to about $2.5 million for 13 days in 2016.  On a per race basis, the decline was 11 percent from $22,946 to $20,446.

Through this year’s 13 days, there were no stakes races. For the comparable period last year, there were two stakes races with $75,000 purses.

The average for starters per race is 8.1 this year, up from 7.8 through this stage in 2015.

The handle numbers we reviewed for 2016 are for the thirteen race days between Saturday Oct. 8 and Sunday Oct. 23.  The numbers for 2015 are for the thirteen days between Saturday Oct. 10 and Sunday Oct. 25.

In 2015, the GP West meet also had racing on the three days between Wednesday Oct. 7 and Friday Oct. 9. 

For those three days, GP West had daily average total handle of $2.8 million and averaged 8.5 starters per race. Those days  are not  part of the 2015-2016 comparison for this article.

This year’s GP West meet was scheduled to open Wednesday Oct. 5, and to have 40 race dates.

Early Cancellations
Because of the threat of Hurricane Mathew, Gulfstream amid a Florida-wide state of emergency cancelled racing from Wednesday Oct. 5 to Friday Oct. 7.

Gulfstream has not announced whether and when it will reschedule the three race dates. It will need approval from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to cancel the dates or to pick specific new dates.

Since then, on three race days, a total of 15 GP West races were taken off turf because of rain. Our review of charts shows that GP West had no races taken off turf through this point last year.

The shift of races from turf to dirt resulted in numerous scratches, and loss of potential handle that cannot be determined.

On Saturday Oct. 22, GP West had its best handle of the current meet. On a rain-free day it did $4,303,614 in all-sources handle for ten races (six on turf, no stakes races). There were 84 starters.

GP West History
This is the third straight year in which Gulfstream is holding the GP West meet at Calder in Miami Gardens, under its lease of Calder’s racing operations.

GP West average field size was 8.4 horses in 2015. That number is not readily available for 2014.

GP West’s average daily average all-sources handle improved from $3.0 million in 2014 to $3.6 million last year. The 2014 meet had 44 race days, while the 2015 meet had 40 days.

In both years, November has been the stronger handle month for GP West—after more trainers beginning sending horses down from northern tracks for the winter.
GP West does not have any stakes races this month. In November, it will have stakes on three Saturdays.  That includes Nov. 12 with the Millions Preview card and seven $100,000 stakes races restricted to Florida-breds.
A central problem at Calder is that there are no covered structures for fans and just seven scattered machines and two-walk around tellers for placing a bet. 

Simulcast betting on other tracks is not available at Calder.

Before and since the start of the GP West meet, Gulfstream has been asking fans to come to its facility in Hallandale Beach, Fla., to watch and wager on GP West races and not go to Calder where it notes there are “limited amenities.”

Gulfstream is eight miles east of Calder.
Bets made at Calder on GP West races and bets made at Gulfstream on GP West races are treated as live for takeout purposes under Florida racing laws.

In both cases, half of the takeout goes to Gulfstream and half goes to the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association for race purses at Gulfstream-run races including the GP West me

On simulcasts of GP West races to other pari-mutuels, such as Hialeah Park, the takeout split is one/third each for Gulfstream, the Florida HBPA and the other pari-mutuel.
-- Jim Freer and Barry Unterbrink

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