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Sonoma County Fair shows betting drop from 2013

  • Jockey Russell Baze and his horse Seduire break away from the rest of the field to win the Wine Country Debutante Stakes race on Friday at the Sonoma County Fair. (CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat)

Final betting figures for the races at the just-concluded Sonoma County Fair show declines across the board. On-track wagering totaled $3,480,000 and that was 6 percent below 2013 figures.

The off-track numbers declined even more. Wagering in California dipped 9 percent while out-of-state dollars wagered on the local races fell 20 percent.

Attendance at the fair was 8 percent lower than last year. A separate admission is not charged to watch the races.

“Obviously, the numbers across the board are disappointing,” director of racing Richard Lewis said.

“I think locally the Graton Casino had a huge impact on attendance at the races. This is the first summer the casino has been open and we’re no different than any racetrack in the country.

“When a casino opens in the vicinity, racetracks suffer. There’s always something going on at a casino, and at the races there’s a race every half-hour or so.”

Lewis said the most bothersome figure was the drop in out-of-state betting.

“Twenty percent is a huge decline,” he said. “There was more competition with Gulfstream Park in Florida open during our meet for the first time. That hurt a little, but overall the public just chose to play other racetracks.”

A total of $5.7 million was bet out of state on the 13 days of racing compared with $7 million last year.

On track, the daily average mutuel handle was $267,690.

“We have a good product and we’re located in an area where people like to come,” Lewis said.

“Our goal is to reverse those percentages next summer.”

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