Fair Grounds Posts Record Handle

Exotic races, beer tasting help push record attendance, handle.

August 24, 2012

Fair Grounds

The Saturday, August 18, “wild night” at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots with camel and ostrich races, as well as the inaugural Tails & Ales Beer Tasting Presented by Abita, resulted in record on-track handle and attendance for a Summer Quarter Horse program.

All-sources wagering on Fair Grounds totaled $303,594, a 39 percent increase over the first Saturday from last season.  On-track handle of $77,300 easily bested the previous record of $58,042 set on Closing Day of last season (September 24, 2011), which featured the inaugural Street Fare Derby food truck festival. Saturday’s on-track total amounted to more than three times the betting on the comparable day from 2011 ($24,568).

Fair Grounds chose to stop admitting guests midway through the program as attendance swelled to its operational capacity. The beer tasting sold out of its 800 allotted tickets for the Clubhouse levels while general admission for the horse and exotic animal racing filled up the first three floors by 7 p.m. For the safety of everyone already in the building, management cut off entry while there was still room to breathe.

A total admission count was not available, as thousands of children were admitted free. Longtime Fair Grounds followers, though, could not recall the track ever having to stop admitting guests since the current grandstand opened in 1997.

The massive crowds on Saturday were not deterred by near-constant rain throughout the afternoon and evening.

“The exotic animal racing clearly struck a chord with the public,” said Fair Grounds President Tim Bryant. “We introduced thousands of first-time visitors to the thrill and fun of racing. We look forward to welcoming them back for future big events, especially Starlight Racing and next spring’s 100th Louisiana Derby.”

The track will host seven Starlight Racing dates – with live music, DJs, food trucks and drink specials – during the 2012-2013 Thoroughbred Racing Season opening Thanksgiving Day. The $1 million Louisiana Derby for Kentucky Derby hopefuls is set for March 30, 2012.

The Summer Quarter Horse Meet continues, Wednesdays to Saturdays, through September 1. First post is 12:40 p.m. daily.