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Weekend Racing : Sunday Won't Be So Super for Race Tracks

January 24, 1987|BILL CHRISTINE | Times Staff Writer

Santa Anita, which apparently lost 10,000 fans on Super Bowl Sunday a year ago, will try to compete with this year's game in nearby Pasadena with a promotion that track officials felt was successful the last time the National Football League's title game was played at the Rose Bowl.

Los Alamitos, which has a harness-racing program scheduled Sunday night, with the first race going off about the time the Super Bowl ends, is trying to lure fans to the track early to watch the football game on more than 100 television monitors. General admission to the track is free and concession stand prices have been cut 50%.

Wherever racing--and other sports--are scheduled Sunday, the Super Bowl, with its heavy television audience, will have an impact.

At Aqueduct, which is in New York Giant territory, the game will start about two hours after the last thoroughbred race is run, but a track spokesman said there will still probably be a "meaningful drop" in business.

In Denver, where the Broncos may saturate the TV market more than any other city during this year's Super Bowl, officials of the Mile High Kennel Club, which races greyhounds, are glad that the law doesn't permit them to operate on Sundays.

"Any time we go up against the Broncos--like on a Saturday, or a preseason game on a Friday night--it hurts us about $400,000 in betting," spokesman Alan Flohr said. "Every year, we make sure that our stakes races don't fall on the same days the Broncos are playing."

On Super Bowl Sunday last year, with the game in New Orleans, Santa Anita drew about 32,000 fans, which was 11,000 fewer than the previous Sunday and 13,000 fewer than the following Sunday. On Super Bowl day, the track gave away radios to fans who correctly selected the Chicago Bears as the team with the lead at halftime.

In 1983, the last time the Super Bowl was played in the Rose Bowl, Santa Anita drew close to 40,000 fans.

"It was like pulling teeth, but we felt a promotion, in which we offered $25,000 in cash to fans off of our mailing list, was the difference," said Mike Williams, the track's director of marketing. "I understand that we had been lucky to get more than 28,000 at the track on a Super Bowl day prior to that year."

This Sunday's promotion is offering $50,000 in cash and sport shirts to fans who are on the Santa Anita mailing list, which has an estimated 180,000 names.

Bay Meadows has given up trying to promote in the face of the Super Bowl, and all it will do Sunday is run an earlier post time, which will enable customers to bet on most of the races and still get home for the game.

"Against the Super Bowl, promotions didn't work and were a waste of money," said Greg Gunderson, Bay Meadows' advertising director. "We're convinced that there's really nothing you can do."

Last year, Bay Meadows drew 6,400 fans on Super Bowl day. The Sunday before, the crowd was 10,600, and the Sunday after the game, the track drew 11,400.

In 1985, when the Super Bowl was played at Stanford, Bay Meadows remained closed. The track parking lot was used for buses to transport fans to the game.

Horse Racing Notes Sandy Hawley, who has been sidelined since last November because of a cancerous growth on his back, was galloping horses Friday morning at Santa Anita and is expected to resume riding next Sunday. . . . Harry Silbert, who has been Bill Shoemaker's agent since the jockey started riding in 1949, is now recovering at home after having been hospitalized for several weeks. . . . Family Style, who beat Life at the Top in the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Jan. 3, is matched against her stablemate again today in the El Encino. Life at the Top was third, tied with Classy Cathy and behind champion Tiffany Lass and runner-up Melair, in the voting for 1986's best 3-year-old filly. . . . Sunday's $100,000 San Marcos Handicap may be the last race for Silveyville, the 9-year-old who has been alternating between racing and stud duty for the last two years. The nine-horse San Marcos field, starting at the rail, includes Swink, Inevitable Leader, Louis Le Grand, Zoffany, Mangaki, Silveyville, Schiller, Formaz and Strawberry Road II. Silveyville, who beat Strawberry Road by a neck in the San Marcos last year, ran third last Sunday in an allowance race.

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