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Betfair Hollywood Park meeting ends amid industry uncertainty

HORSE RACING

Betting using computers and mobile devices was 'up significantly' during the 50-day meeting, but the overall handle was expected to drop by 3%. On-track attendance also has been inconsistent.

July 15, 2012|Eric Sondheimer
  • Wagering from TVG and other forms of betting using computers and mobile devices was "up significantly" during the meeting.
Wagering from TVG and other forms of betting using computers and mobile… (Associated Press )

Betfair Hollywood Park's 50-day spring-summer meeting came to a close Sunday amid indications that the thoroughbred racing industry in Southern California is headed into uncharted territory.

Jack Liebau, president of the Inglewood track, said wagering from TVG, TwinSpires and other forms of betting using computers and mobile devices was "up significantly" during the meeting. But the overall handle was expected to drop by 3%.

"Whether those are people no longer going to the track or satellite networks or they are new people with account wagering, I don't know," Liebau said.

This was the first year of a partnership between Hollywood Park and Betfair, which owns TVG. Last month, purses were reduced because of the handle drop and smaller field sizes.

Hollywood Park continues to struggle in attracting fans to the track. On Saturday, when there were four graded stakes races on a 10-race card, attendance was 6,087. More people showed up Friday night — 7,148 — when the band X gave a concert after the races.

The best night of attendance at the meeting was Friday, June 1, when 16,209 showed up for a night card that included a concert by the reggae band Rebelution.

Horsemen are coming to terms with the reality that on-track attendance in Southern California is going to remain inconsistent while hoping that wagering is given a boost by the increasing betting options.

"Hopefully, you'll be getting it on your phone, your home TV, your app, your iPad," said trainer John Sadler.

Among the positives cited by Liebau were that the Cushion Track remains "the safest track in California" and the excitement generated by I'll Have Anotherwinning two legs of the Triple Crown.

Bob Baffert and Rafael Bejarano won training and jockey titles. Dhaamer won the closing-day Sunset Handicap under jockey Julien Leparoux.

The Del Mar meeting begins Wednesday.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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