The Meadows Racetrack & Casino closed out its 2012 racing season with strong gains in its key indicators, including a 15 percent jump in all-sources handle.
Average daily handle in 2012 was $501,550, an increase of more than $65,000 per card from 2011. On-track wagering grew 22 percent, an indication that competitive racing and an attractive, diverse betting menu are drawing more fans to the track.
"We have emphasized full, competitive fields that yield the kind of payoffs bettors want,” said Mike Jeannot, president of Meadows Racing. "Our 2012 results demonstrate that patrons are responding favorably to that initiative.”
Average field size during the year was 8.36 starters (up from 8.28 in 2011), a phenomenon that, coupled with the track's diverse wagering menu, brought handsome returns to bettors. The average win payoff in 2012 was $12.78 (compared to $12.66 the previous year), meaning that winning horses were sent off, on average, at odds of more than 5-1. That figure compares favorably to those of harness tracks throughout the industry.
Jeannot noted that The Meadows' outstanding 2012 performance also is good news for the track's partners — horsemen and horsewomen, as represented by the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA), and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the MSOA and the state share in wagering proceeds.
"The MSOA worked diligently with us to create an entertaining product, and that hard work paid off,” he said. "Our 808 stalls for our resident horse population are full, with dozens of other horses shipped in daily to realize the benefits of racing at The Meadows. Horse owners, trainers and drivers enjoyed an unprecedented opportunity in 2012 to share in our success.”
He said the track's growth benefits the Commonwealth in ways beyond taxes on pari-mutuel handle.
"The Meadows' prominent position in harness racing helps spark growth in the state's breeding industry, and it drives expansion in such businesses as the hotel/restaurant sector,” he said. "All that means more jobs and revenue for Pennsylvania.”
In 2012, the track completed the $6.25 million construction of six new, state-of-the-art barns, and it implemented a "green” initiative that features the recycling of frying oil for biodiesel fuel, straw and manure for mushroom fertilizer, and runoff water for racetrack irrigation.
The year also brought a number of memorable on-track moments. Hall of Famer Dave Palone became the "winningest” driver in North American harness history when he collected victory number 15,181 July 5 at The Meadows, while longtime Meadows trainer/driver Dick Stillings was inducted into harness racing's Living Hall of Fame. On the racing front, Bolt The Duer captured the track's signature event, the Delvin Miller Adios, in an astonishing 1:47.4, fastest mile ever on a five-eighths-mile track.
Jeannot said he expects a similar strong showing in 2013 as The Meadows celebrates its 50th anniversary with a number of special events still under development. The track kicked off its 2013 season, featuring 208 live cards, Jan. 3. Highlight of the year is the Adios, which brings together the top 3-year-old pacers in the sport and serves as the climax for the annual celebration of harness racing called Grand Circuit Week. Adios eliminations are set for July 20, with the final to go July 27. (The Meadows)