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Contact: Dan Leary
ARLINGTON CONCLUDES 2004 SEASON WITH INCREASES IN ATTENDANCE AND AVERAGE DAILY TOTAL AND ON-TRACK HANDLE
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (September 20, 2004) -- The 96-day, 2004 Arlington Park race meet -- run from Friday, May 14 through Sunday, Sept. 19, 2004 -- concluded with a 6-percent increase in average daily attendance and a 2.6-percent rise in overall wagering compared to the corresponding daily averages of the 2003 meet of 104 days.
This year, total attendance was 726,923 versus 743,067 in 2003. Average daily attendance for the 96-day season rose to 7,572 compared to 7,145 last year, an increase of 427 per day.
“Everyone at Arlington Park is grateful for the support of our fans, horsemen and employees during this successful 2004 race meet,” said Arlington Park President Cliff Goodrich. “Our increase in daily attendance included many new fans that we have exposed to the sport for the first time at Arlington Park this year, particularly due to the ever-growing popularity of our weekend promotions and an increase in group sales.”
“Since one of our paramount objectives is building a new fan base for the future,” added Goodrich, “we feel that our 2004 meet was successful in helping to grow the great sport of Thoroughbred racing.”
Total handle from all sources for the 96-day meet was $402,308,299 for a daily average of $4,190,711 surpassing the 2003 daily average for 104 days of $4,084,324 by $106,387 per day. Last year, a total of $424,796,662 was wagered on the 104-day meet.
On-track, average daily wagering increased by 3.6 percent from $559,454 in 2003 to $579,713 per day in 2004, a daily increase of $20,259. This year, a total of $55,652,458 was wagered at Arlington Park during the 96-day meet versus $58,183,186 in 104 days during 2003.
“As we move forward and continue growing the sport of Thoroughbred racing by attracting more new and casual fans to visit Arlington Park,” added Goodrich, “we must also continue to educate these people to the nuances of wagering, which should have a positive impact on our handle numbers.
“These new fans, combined with our loyal core customers and a continued emphasis on improving our racing product, should provide the impetus for an even more exciting 2005 season.”
Total average daily purses paid during the 2004 meet amounted to $274,561, compared to daily average purses of $280,572 in 2003. The average number of starters per race of 8.25 represented a 1.4-percent increase from the 2003 meet average of 8.14 starters per race.
On the track, Jockey Rene Douglas became the first jockey in Arlington Park history to win four consecutive Arlington riding crowns with 125 trips to the winner’s circle. Jockeys Steve Brooks (1947-49) and Bill Hartack (1955-57) were tied with Douglas for the previous record of three straight riding titles. Longtime Chicago-based reinsman Eusebio Razo Jr. finished second in the standings for the second straight season with 86 tallies.
In Arlington’s signature event, Brushwood Stables’ Kicken Kris, trained by Michael Matz with Kent Desormeaux aboard, was declared the winner of Arlington Million XXII following the disqualification of Powerscourt to fourth place for interference in the stretch, marking the second consecutive year that the Million first-place finisher was disqualified.
The Million is one of three Grade I races that comprise the International Festival of Racing, held this year on Aug. 14. This year’s Festival attracted a crowd of 30,414, the highest since 1991, when 31,179 watched Tight Spot win the 11th running of the Arlington Million.
In the other Festival headliners, Godolphin Racing Inc.’s Crimson Palace, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Frankie Dettori, won the Beverly D. Kenneth L. & Sarah K. Ramsey’s Kitten’s Joy, trained by Dale Romans with Jerry Bailey in the saddle, earned a 3¼-length tally in the Secretariat Stakes.
Other notable performances included John Gunther’s Eye of the Tiger winning the Grade II Washington Park Handicap; Breeders’ Cup Distaff heroine Amerman Racing Stable LLC’s Adoration capturing the Grade III Arlington Matron; a sweep of the Fourth of July holiday weekend headliners by owner Sidney L. Port and trainer Laura de Seroux with Ballingarry in the Grade III Stars and Stripes Breeders’ Cup Turf and Toasted in the Grade II Arlington Classic; and a dead-heat for the win in the Grade III Arlington Breeders’ Cup Oaks between Richard Otto Stables Inc.’s Lovely Afternoon and Stonerside Stable LLC’s Catboat.
Owner Frank C. Calabrese earned his fifth consecutive title as the meet’s leading owner with 26 wins, 14 better than runners up Steve Asmussen and Terry Bruner, who had 12 apiece.
The trainers’ race went down to the wire, with Frank Kirby leading Asmussen by one win going into the final day. When the dust settled, each conditioner had won a race on the meet’s final day and Kirby took the title 32-31. It was Kirby’s second Arlington trainer’s title, 30 years after he won 49 races in 1974 to claim his first.
Jockey James Graham was named the meet's “Rising Star” and trainer Harvey Vanier was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award.
Arlington Park -- the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- completed its 96-day meet on Sept. 19. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Lucky’s featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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