Record Del Mar handle to provide much of $1.2M to fairgrounds


Last updated 9/2/2021 at 2:40pm

Joe Naiman

Special to the Village News

The betting odds for horse races are adjusted based on the betting amount for each horse so that the track's revenues are based on the total betting handle rather than which specific horse wins. There are some variables which may change the track's take. Odds are in 0.1:1 increments, so minor differences may occur. If nobody correctly selects all six winning horses in a Pick Six wager, a carryover pool increases the subsequent jackpot and is likely to attract additional wagers and thus increase the handle and the track's share.

When a 55:1 longshot won the third race Aug. 19 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club many of that day's Pick Six tickets were eliminated with five races remaining. No bettors correctly picked the six horses that day and, with nearly a $2 million carryover, Del Mar chose to implement a mandatory Pick Six payout two days later when the Pacific Classic and four other stakes races would be run.

A mandatory Pick Six payout, which pays bettors with five correct horses if no wager slip has all six winners, is standard for the final day of the meet. It is discretionary for other days, but the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club guessed that a mandatory payout the day of major races would entice more bets.

The strategy worked. The $1,874,996 carryover was complemented by $8,876,771 of new money for a total jackpot of $10,751,767 although with 822 correct tickets each winner only received $10,521.50. The total betting handle for Aug. 21 was $36,005,612. Excluding the 2017 Breeders' Cup days the previous single-day record for Del Mar was $25,870,431.

Much of the handle is returned to bettors. A portion of the handle goes to the state, and some of the handle is used to subsidize stabling at facilities without racing. Some of the handle goes to the track to cover racing purse payouts.

The track commission involves both the facility where the racing occurred and the facility where the betting occurred, although for on-track wagering the track receives both portions. That amount is for track operations and net revenues. The term net revenues rather than profit is used because the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is a non-profit organization and net revenues are invested into facilities.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club leases the San Diego County Fairgrounds from the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which is part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Some rooms or other areas are specific to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and net revenues might be spent on those rooms or on the track itself. The grandstands building is also used by the San Diego County Fair, as are the barns, so net revenues might be spent on facilities which benefit the county fair as well as the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Other structures are not used (or in the case of one of the exhibit halls used for parking), but the improvements paid for by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club allow the San Diego County Fair to prioritize what the horse racing entity doesn't.

The Aug. 21 handle generated $1,218,299 in track commissions and $1,479,248 for Del Mar purse money. Although some of the track commission revenue will be used for operations, the additional amount generated additional net revenue which will be used for fairgrounds facilities in the future. The additional purse money will likely attract more horses and will likely increase betting handles for those races.


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