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Contact: Dan Leary
ARLINGTON'S 2001 MEET POSTS 8.3% INCREASE IN OVERALL WAGERING HIGHLIGHTED BY ILLINOIS RECORD HANDLE ON ARLINGTON MILLION DAY
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Nov. 2, 2001) -- The 101-day 2001 Arlington Park race meet, run a month later with two fewer racing dates than last year, began on Wednesday, June 13, and concluded on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2001 with an increase in total handle from all sources of 8.3 percent.
The highlight of the meet was a record handle of $14,519,027, the highest single-day total ever wagered on Illinois races, generated Aug. 18 on Arlington Million Day. More than $3 million of that total was bet on track.
For the meet, total handle from all sources, including separate pools, increased by $27,511,044 overall to $360,622,482 with two fewer racing dates compared to last year's $333,111,438 total. In 2001, average daily total handle was $3,570,520, an increase of 10.4 percent ($336,428 per day) over the 2000 daily average of $3,234,091.
"The significant increase in overall wagering is a testament to the improved quality of racing in Illinois during this year's Arlington meet," said Arlington President Steve Sexton. "We had the highest purses in Illinois history during our Summer Festival of Racing plus an all-time daily record wagered on Illinois races on Arlington Million Day. It demonstrates that fans throughout the state and across the country took notice of our racing product.
"Our business was very strong during the summer months, with both our on-track attendance and handle up through Labor Day," explained Sexton. "Like many other businesses and racetracks across the nation, our business declined precipitously following the national tragedy on Sept. 11."
Racing through the month of October for the first time ever, Arlington generated on-track handle of $56,804,502 for the 101-day 2001 meet versus a 103-day total of $65,679,259 for 2000. Average daily on-track handle dipped from $637,667 last year to $562,421 (-11.8 percent) in 2001.
Overall attendance was 594,921 for 101 days in 2001 compared with 691,055 for 103 days a year ago. Average daily attendance during the 2001 meet was 5,890, a decrease of 12.2 percent from last year's 6,709 daily average.
"Other factors that impacted our business were racing through October rather than May for the first time," added Sexton. "Plus the record rainfall and inclement weather we endured since mid-August caused an inordinate number of scratches which negatively affected wagering. However, one of the reasons we changed our racing dates was to position ourselves to attract Thoroughbred racing's Championship day -- the Breeders' Cup in 2002."
The year began with a return to the track's former name, Arlington Park, and a new logo incorporating the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs Incorporated ("CDI"). In addition, Arlington's five off-track betting facilities, located in Arlington Heights, Chicago, Quad Cities, Rockford and Waukegan, were rebranded as "Trackside," a name now used by all of the CDI's OTBs in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
The racetrack invested $3.1 million to build three new barns with 164 new stalls in time for the start of the live-racing season, thereby increasing Arlington's backstretch capacity to 2,140.
In April, Steve Sexton, former executive vice president and general manager of Lone Star Park, joined Arlington's staff as executive vice president. At the end of August, he was elevated to the position of president of the racetrack and senior vice president of CDI's Illinois operations.
For the first time since Cigar's record-tying 16th consecutive win in the Arlington Citation Challenge on July 13, 1996, Arlington had races televised on national network television. Both the Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf on July 1 and the July 28 Arlington Handicap were broadcast live by CBS Sports as part of the NTRA Champions Series.
On the track, Silvano, a German-bred trained by Andreas Wohler and ridden by Andreas Suborics, beat an international field of turf specialists in Arlington Million XIX, one of three Grade I races comprising the International Festival of Racing on Aug. 18. In the other Festival headliners, England's Legend, under Corey Nakatani, earned a wire-to-wire score in the Beverly D., while Startac, with Alex Solis in the irons, captured the Secretariat Stakes.
For the second year in a row, trainer Chris Block won two stakes races on Prairie State Festival day, June 23, taking the Lincoln Heritage Handicap with Ioya Two and the Cardinal Handicap with Reno Rumble. Gene Cilio also saddled two stakes winners on the card -- Act of War in the Springfield Stakes and Shemya in the Purple Violet Stakes.
Jockey Rene Douglas, competing at Arlington for the first time on a season-long basis, emerged as the breakout star of the deep jockey colony. His 134 wins more than doubled second-place finisher Robby Albarado's 66 victories.
Randall Meier became the 61st rider in history to win 3,500 races when he guided Ubiquitous Boy to a nose victory in the ninth race on July 19. Meier, who returned to action late last year from a career-threatening injury suffered in December 1999, finished third in the jockey standings with 63 victories.
On Aug. 26, Shane Sellers, the nation's third-leading jockey in 2000 with more than $14.5 million in earnings, returned to full-time riding at Arlington following an eight-month layoff after major reconstructive knee surgery. Sellers won four races, including the Sept. 8 Spectacular Bid Stakes on Double Zero Seven, after which he announced a sudden end to his comeback bid.
Jockey Shane Laviolette rode 49 winners during the meet, leaving him one victory shy of 1,000 for his career.
The race for leading trainer, which went down to the meet's final day, found Arlington newcomer Jerry Hollendorfer edging out defending champion Wayne Catalano by a count of 41 to 39. Tom Tomillo was third in the standings with 29 wins.
Frank Calabrese, who tied with Lothenbach Stables for Arlington's top owner honors last year, easily defended his title with 39 wins, triple the 13 tallies recorded by runner-up Team Block.
Arlington Park, the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill., will run a 107-day meet in 2002 from Wednesday, June 5 to Sunday, Oct. 27. Arlington Park, which merged with Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN) in September 2000, also operates five off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities -- "Trackside" Arlington Park (Arlington Heights) and Quad City Downs (East Moline), and in Chicago, Rockford, Waukegan. For further information on Arlington Park, visit our website at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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