Handle, Average Field Size Increase at Will Rogers Downs

The Claremore, Oklahoma, track ended its American Quarter Horse meet on November 14.

Edited press release

Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs saw increases in handle and average field size during its 28-day fall meet, which ended November 14.

Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs ended its 28-day fall American Quarter Horse meet on November 14, as the Oklahoma track registered increases in handle and average field size.

During the meet, which also offered Paint and Appaloosa racing, Will Rogers paid more than $100,000 in purses per day while running 12 races a day. A total of $22.3 million was wagered on the track’s races during both its fall and spring meet. The spring meet featured Thoroughbred racing.

“I think part of the reason for the (handle) increase was that our average field size was 8.7, up from 8.4 in 2014,” said Jesse Ullery, the track’s racing secretary and simulcast manager. “While that may not seem like a big deal, I believe that is the reason we saw the uptick in handle.

“Anything we can do to create more betting opportunities for our guests, both on and off track, lead to better payouts,” he added. “And payouts are exactly what every horse player is after.”

Agustin Silva of Jones, Oklahoma, was the fall meet’s leading rider with 49 wins, 14 more than runner-up Daniel Torres. The meet’s leading trainer, Luis Villafranco of Waupanucka, Oklahoma, prepped the winners of 29 races, 10 more than runner-up Dee Keener.

Brian Muse of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, and Bella Vista Farms of Arcola, Illinois, both won five races to lead all owners.

Major Mac, who was a perfect 3 for 3 at Will Rogers Downs, earned Horse of the Meet. Owned and trained by Muse, the 5-year-old gelding earned $17,548 for the meet, capped off by a victory in the Green Country Handicap, a race that he also won in 2014.

“It was really a great meet,” said Ullery. “We had some major players, paid out some big wins and offered the most exciting horse racing entertainment in the region to our guests. Our goal for 2016 is to exceed that.”

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