DEL MAR (CNS) - The average daily attendance in the first 10 days horse racing at the Del Mar Racetrack was 20,737, up by more than 2,800 patrons over last year, track officials announced Monday.

Del Mar averaged 17,906 fans per day last year.

The horse racing industry was hit hard by the recession, with attendance dropping at tracks around California and nationwide. Operators of tracks have implemented a number of programs to rebuild their business, and even politicians have passed legislation designed to boost turnout.

The improved attendance at Del Mar has led to higher purses for race winners, so the field of horses per race has climbed from 8.1 to 8.3, according to the track.

The daily handle -- the amount wagered by bettors -- is $11.7 million, about the same as last year.

"We're off to a very fine beginning," said Joe Harper, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club's chief executive officer, president and general manager. "We'll try to take this jump start and keep running with it."

The next scheduled racing day is Wednesday.