Attendance averaged 3,078 fans per race day in 2023 at Emerald Downs in Auburn. COURTESY PHOTO, Emerald Downs

Attendance averaged 3,078 fans per race day in 2023 at Emerald Downs in Auburn. COURTESY PHOTO, Emerald Downs

Emerald Downs attendance up 16% in 2023; handle down 10.6%

Auburn track concluded 52-day, live-racing schedule on Sept. 17

Emerald Down’s 2023 live racing season concluded Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Auburn track as it began over four months ago, with perfect weather.

During the 52-day meet conducted over 20 weekends, the track was rated fast on 51 of the 52 days, according to the Emerald Downs website. Attendance was up 16% over 2022, averaging 3,078 per race day. The biggest crowd of the year was on July 3 when over 9,100 people showed up for racing and fireworks. Over 8,000 attended live racing on July 23 when Corgi Races were the featured promotion.

Overall handle was $60.47 million for an average of $1.16 million per day, according to Emerald Downs. While this was a decrease of 10.6% over 2022, the track’s retention from handle increased 3.7% due to changes in host fees. Total takeout decreased from 19.56% in 2022 to 18.87% in 2023.

A total of 709 horses started 2,847 times over 435 races for an average field size of 6.54. There were 282 horses who started at least five times at the meet.

Total purses distributed was $7.06 million, an average of $135,852 per race day, according to Emerald Downs. Purses for the 2023 race meet were generated as follows:

• 60% from advance deposit wagering and simulcast revenue; 25% contribution from the Muckleshoot Tribe who own and operate the track; 12% from live racing; and 3% from fees.

Emerald Downs will announce the race meet dates for 2024 in October, but the plan is to open on Saturday, May 4, Kentucky Derby Day.

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