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Short fields plague Hollypark

Dec 23, 2003 9:03 AM

Hollywood Park finished its 30-day autumn meet on Sunday with a daily average common pool handle of $8,991,717, a 1.3-percent decline from the average of $9,111,812 during a 35-day meeting in 2002.

In addition, about $578,000 was wagered each day in separate pool handle for an all-sources total of $287,112,497 ”” a daily average of $9,570,417 ”” down less than one percent from 2002. Purses also were slightly down, averaging $367,992, compared to $379,157 in 2002.

While the average on-track attendance of 6,516 was up 0.9 percent from the figure of 6,458 in 2002, the on-track handle fell 7.2 percent to an average of $1,340,573.

Overall attendance (including Southern California off-track sites) averaged 14,817, down 3.6 percent from an average of 15,376 in 2002.

The only positive gains were in advance deposit wagering, which averaged $519,945 a day — an increase of 38 percent from the figure of $374,938 during last year’s autumn meet.

"Even though the major races during this meet were outstanding, we were plagued by short fields on many days," track President Rick Baedeker said. "To do better ”” and attract more horses ”” we’ve got to make it more affordable to race in California."

Short fields, a problem in recent years, are even more of a concern with soaring workers’ compensation costs in the state.

The industry is seeking relief in 2004 through Senate Bill 900, which would lower the cost of workers’ compensation insurance and would also provide a participation bonus of $400 for horses finishing worse than fourth (in Southern California).