Amid record rainfall, which caused record race cancellations, Lone Star Park concluded its 19th Spring Thoroughbred Racing Season July 19 with increases in both attendance and total on-track wagering.
Attendance during the 2015 Spring Thoroughbred Season, which was conducted over 50 dates between April 9 and July 19, increased 4.8% to 366,720, compared to 349,396 during the 50-date 2014 season. Average daily attendance was 7,325 compared to 6,988 a year ago.
A total of 16.96 inches of rain fell in June, shattering the previous record of 13.66 recorded in May of 1982, according to the National Weather Service. They show a total of 26.47 inches fell in the area during the months of April though June.
“Having to endure record breaking rainfall, which forced us to cancel part of our live race cards several times, the rise in attendance is encouraging,” said President and General Manager Scott Wells. “The increased numbers are a testament that fans are pleased with the experience they have here. I give credit to our exceptional team of employees who do everything within their power to create winning experiences for our guests.
“Our live handle suffered not only from cancelled races caused by the deluge, but numerous scheduled turf races had to be transferred to the main track. Late scratches reduce field sizes, making those races less attractive to bettors.”
On-track wagering on the live product was down 11.1% to $12.2 million compared to last year’s total of $13.7 million.
Total on-track simulcast wagering showed a positive gain rising 7.6% to $26.7 million compared to the $24.8 million wagered in 2014.
The on-track wagering total including both live and simulcast rose 1% to $38.9 million versus $38.5 million last year. Daily averages were $777,677 compared to $770,129 one year ago.
Overall, there was a 3.1% decline in all-sources wagering. $67.6 million was wagered during the meet as opposed to $69.7 million wagered in 2014.
On the track, a total of 3,581 starters competed in 447 races compared to 3,774 runners in 458 races during the 2014 meeting. Average field size was 8.1 compared to 8.2 from last year, a decrease of 5.1%. Average daily purses were $140,099 compared to $142,729, a 1.8% decrease.
Another impact evident due to weather is the number of turf races run. A total of 99 races were run on the turf this season compared to 151 in 2014, a decrease of 34.4%
The local riding title went to a new face at Lone Star; C. J. McMahon. The 20-year-old Louisiana native won a total of 95 races from 284 starts during the 50-day meet. His mounts won a total of $985,127. This was McMahon’s first ever riding title.
Finishing in second with 53 wins from 198 starts was Lone Star Park’s all-time winningest jockey, Cliff Berry. This was his last season to compete at the Grand Prairie track as he announced he will retire from his riding career at the end of 2015.
Berry rode his first winner here during Lone Star Park’s inaugural Thoroughbred Racing Season aboard a horse named Ifihadawishforyou. That was on April 18, 1997. During his Lone Star Park career, he has ridden a total of 5,422 races at the Grand Prairie track winning 1,028 of them and earning over $18.4 Million dollars. He has been Champion Rider of the meet five times, in 2005-06, 2008, 2011 and 2012. Nationally, he has ridden a career total of 28,677 horses winning 4,517 total races and has earned over $65.9 Million dollars. In his final race here Sunday, with fans cheering, “Berry” over and over down the length of the stretch, you could feel the excitement and energy radiating from the apron and through the air. Though he finished fourth in that final race, he had three winners earlier on the card. He retires a winner. He will be missed!
Top trainer Karl Broberg of Arlington, Texas won his second consecutive title. From a total of 167 starters, Broberg trained horses made 66 trips to the winner’s circle. That is a 40% win rate compared his 2014 rate of 29% with 58 winners from 203 starters. Broberg’s stable won a total of $610,531 for the meet.
A new record was reached for single season wins by an owner. Danny Keene of Greenville, Texas won a total of 38 races from 140 starters posting earnings of $495,034. This was Mr. Keene’s third consecutive title here at Lone Star Park. The previous record of 37 wins by an owner was set in 2010 by Tom Durant.
Majestic City, winner of the $200,000 Grade III, Lone Star Park Handicap was voted Champion Horse of the Meeting. Champion Texas-bred of the Meet honors went to Texas Air who won the $200,000 Grade III, Texas Mile, his first graded stakes win. Claimer Get In Da House, who was a perfect 4 for 4 at the meet, was voted Champion Claiming Horse.