Calder Race Course Concludes 2006 Meet

Calder Race Course concluded its 112-day Calder Meet on Sunday, Oct. 15, with gains in average daily inter-track (“ITW”), intra-state (‘ISW”) and combined mutuel handle. Since there were eight fewer days of live racing than the 2005 Calder Meet, daily averages in wagering and attendance are used for year-over-year comparisons. On-track attendance and average daily on-track wagering on Calder’s live racing program were down slightly from last year.

Total combined handle on Calder’s live races was $328,429,957, which includes money wagered on-track and at other racetracks and simulcast locations around the country. This represents a daily average of $2,932,410, a 1.99-percent increase over last year’s daily average of $2,875,208.

Total on-track attendance on live racing days was 461,715, a daily average of 4,122 and a 3.01-percent decrease from the daily average of 4,250 in 2005. Total on-track handle on Calder’s live races was $40,396,907 for a daily average of $360,687, relatively flat to last year’s daily average of $361,489.

For six weeks during the summer, Calder experimented with a three-day live racing week, resulting in eight fewer racing days for the season compared to 2005. From July 31 to Aug. 27, live racing was conducted on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in an attempt to increase field sizes and purses. Both goals were met during the time period with average field sizes swelling to 9.0 horses.

Average field size for the entire meet was 7.55 horses, down slightly from the 7.62 starters per race in 2005. At the beginning of the meet in April, not all barns in the stable area were ready for occupancy as repairs were still being made to areas of the track damaged by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005.

“While our daily attendance dropped slightly, on-track wagering on our live races held relatively steady this season, and our overall results were helped by strong full-card wagering by customers at Calder and around the state at other simulcast locations,” said Calder President Ken Dunn. “Additionally, by reducing the number of days we raced in August this year, we increased average field size during that period and increased wagering on our simulcast signal both in-state and at simulcast outlets around the country. Our August gains helped boost our meet-end daily averages for inter-track and inter-state wagering. We are pleased with the initial results from our abbreviated mid-summer schedule and are looking at ways to duplicate and, hopefully, improve upon our 2006 results next year.”

Total race purses for the meet grew to $26,544,075 from $25,264,557 last year. Average daily purses were up 12.57 percent to $237,001, compared to the daily average of $210,538 a year earlier.

Calder presented its major events, the Summit of Speed and Festival of the Sun, again in 2006, with year-over-year gains in handle (Summit of Speed) and attendance (Festival of the Sun), respectively. The Summit of Speed, held on July 15 this year, again attracted top sprinters from around the country to compete against the best local horses. A crowd of 8,010 gathered on track to witness the first Grade I race in Calder’s 35-year history, the $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap, which was run as part of the 2006 Summit. Calder handled a combined $9,727,558, the third-highest wagering total in the seven-year history of the event and the highest single-day handle of the 2006 meet. In 2005, Calder’s Summit of Speed attracted an on-track crowd of 8,068 and combined wagering of $7,020,071.

The Festival of the Sun, now its 15th year, was held on Oct. 14 and showcased the rich finals of the Florida Stallion Stakes (FSS) series, which is celebrating its 25th year. A season-high crowd of 12,108 attended Calder for the afternoon of racing and the annual Horse Fair, and saw an undefeated 2-year-old named Straight Faced lose his bid for a sweep of the FSS to another talented juvenile, Green Vegas. The Calder Derby (GIII) was won by Can’t Beat It, while Nkosi Reigns won the Spend A Buck Handicap (GIII). Five other stakes races were also held on this year’s Festival card, which handled a combined total of $4,981,495. In 2005, Calder’s Festival of the Sun attracted an on-track crowd of 11,567 and combined wagering of $5,849,452.

Meet end honors went to owner Richard Averill with 22 victories; it was his first Calder title. Bill White won his 10th leading trainer title at Calder having lead the standings in 1993 and then every year from 1997 to 2004. His runners won 50 races at the 2006 meet. Manoel Cruz was the runaway leading jockey of the season with 197 winners, 95 more than the second place jockey, Jeffrey Sanchez. It was Cruz’ second Calder title as his first came in 2003.

The 60-day Tropical at Calder Meet began on Monday, Oct. 16, and runs through Jan. 2, 2007. Key dates include the simulcast of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships from Churchill Downs on Nov. 4; the Florida Million on Nov. 11; Extreme Day (redux) on Nov. 25; Grand Slam I on Dec. 2; Grand Slam II on Dec. 16; Grand Slam III on Dec. 30; and the Tropical Park Derby (GIII) on New Year’s Day. The first “derby” of the year in the country, the Tropical Park Derby was last won by Barbaro on Jan. 1, 2006, who went on to claim the roses in the 132nd Kentucky Derby on May 6.

Calder Race Course, located on South Florida’s Miami-Dade / Broward county line, offers Thoroughbred horse racing and wholecard simulcasting during two consecutive meets. The track is home of the Summit of Speed, Juvenile Showcase, Festival of the Sun, Florida Million and Grand Slam series of events. A wholly owned property of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), Calder also operates the Tropical at Calder Meet. In 2006, the Calder Meet runs from April 25 through October 15 and the Tropical at Calder Meet runs from Oct. 16 through Jan. 2, 2007. Information about Calder Race Course can be found on the Internet at www.calderracecourse.com.