Track overcame COVID-19 related challenges and crowd-size restrictions thanks to robust online betting and expanded national television exposure
GRANTS PASS, Ore., July 29, 2020 — Grants Pass Downs, Oregon’s premier horse racing track, concluded its second commercial meet on July 8, following a four-week run of Tuesday and Wednesday racing. The summer meet, which began June 16, carded 78 races over nine dates and handled a total of $2,235,303, nearly quadruple the total amount from last year’s non-commercial summer meet. The meet saw a dramatic jump in online and off-track betting, with nearly 94% of the meet’s handle being driven by off-site betting – representing an astounding 859% increase from last summer’s meet.
The horsemen and horsewomen received $619,511 in purse money on the season at an average of $68,835 per race day and $7,942 per race. Compared to summer 2019, average race day purses saw an increase of $38,863 – up 130%. Additionally, the track’s field size jumped to an average 7.94 horses per race over last summer’s 5.34 horses per race.
“This record-breaking meet shows that racing is alive and well in spite of COVID-19, and our success is a testament to the hard work put in by track staff, operations and facilities teams and the wonderful community of horsemen and women whose efforts made the meet possible,” said Randy Evers, President of Grants Pass Downs. “We are proud to be one of the few live sporting events on television while supporting the local Grants Pass economy.”
Once again, the meet’s leading jockey was Kassie Guglielmino with 14 wins in 58 starts. Guglielmino, who also finished the 2019 fall commercial meet as Grants Pass Downs’ top jockey, was followed by Taylor E. Smith (11 wins in 50 starts). Jorge Rosales was the meet’s leading trainer with 12 wins and ten second place finishes in 37 starts, and Marjorie Avery finished atop the owner rankings with five wins and six second place finishes in 16 starts.
The meet’s record handles were achieved despite limited crowd sizes. In response to the pandemic, Grants Pass Downs complied with the Governor’s order to limit the number of nonessential people on site at 250 on racing days during the summer meet. It also made significant operational changes to align with guidance from the CDC and Oregon public health officials to ensure the safety of staff, participating horsemen, athletes, and stakeholders. Dates for the upcoming fall race meet will be announced soon.
For questions about meet details, terms, training schedules, or fees and regulations, please visit https://gpdowns.com/.
ABOUT GRANTS PASS DOWNS
Located at the Josephine County Fairgrounds, Grants Pass Downs has hosted live pari-mutuel horse racing since 1968 and is now home to the largest race meet in the state of Oregon. Grants Pass Downs is the only venue approved by the Oregon Racing Commission to host live commercial horse races in the state. The track hosted its first commercial race meet in the fall of 2019.