Led by record-setting GI Arkansas Derby and GII Rebel S. days, Oaklawn Park reported an 11% increase in total handle during its recently-concluded 2018 season.
An estimated crowd of 64,500 turned out Apr. 14 to watch undefeated ‘TDN Rising Star’ Magnum Moon (Malibu Moon) capture the GI Arkansas Derby, contributing to a total handle of $16,159,771 on the 12-race card, a figure that broke the previous single-day record of $15,133,537 set on Arkansas Derby day in 2000. Four weeks earlier, 37,500 saw Magnum Moon capture the Rebel on a day that handled $10,771,984, the highest non-Arkansas Derby Day yield in the 114-year history of the track.
“Despite missing two days due to weather in January and 16 inches of rain in February, we are extremely excited to have ended the meet with a double-digit increase in handle,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “It’s a testament to the great product we were able to put on the track this season. I want to thank the owners, trainers and jockeys who put on the greatest show in racing. I also want to thank our entire management team and staff for such an incredible season. Most of all, a huge thank you goes out to our fans for their continued support.”
The Hot Springs oval raced 55 of 57 days for total handle of $209,695,403. The average total daily handle of $3,812,644 was up 15% over 2017. Export handle also saw the big gains during the 2018 season, growing by 15% to $175,125,149 despite racing two fewer days than 2017.
Oaklawn will start a new tradition in 2019 when it opens Friday, Jan. 25 and continues its season through Saturday, May 3, marking the first time that the track has raced after Arkansas Derby Day. The 2019 Arkansas Derby will be run Saturday, Apr. 13.