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Attendance, betting handle down at Del Mar

Posted at 5:28 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 12:27:21-04

Three weeks into the 2019 racing season, both attendance and overall betting handle are down at Del Mar.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club says attendance is down about 5 percent, and handle is down 14 percent compared to 2018.

Thoroughbred Club CEO Joe Harper says the issues surrounding the 30 horse deaths at Santa Anita have turned off some fans.

"We've got to prove to our racing fans that we're doing the safest things we can to keep these horses healthy," he said.

So far, three horses have died at Del Mar this season, all during training (two died in a freak accident when they collided head on before the second day of racing). Harper says the track has increased safety protocols that have been helping keep horses safe.

"There's vets out there every morning keeping an eye on," he said. "They see a horse that maybe doesn't look that good, isn't warming up enough to where he'd be safe, we get him off the racetrack."

Harper says the attendance and betting handle are on track with estimates. He says he hopes to see them both go back up over time.

Through three weeks - 15 days of racing - the track is averaging about 13,089 fans per day.