Handle and attendance rise at Saratoga
By David Grening
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Fantastic weather and full fields have helped Saratoga enjoy a strong first half of the 2009 meet, posting gains in attendance, ontrack handle, and all-sources handle compared to the first three weeks of 2008.
Total attendance for the first 18 days of the meet is 439,713, up 8.4 percent from 405,616 in 2008. Daily average attendance is 24,429, compared with 22,534 in 2008.
Ontrack handle at Saratoga is $57,813,286, up 12.3 percent from the $51,486,871 wagered on the first half of last year's meet. Daily average handle is $3,211,849, compared with $2,860,382 in 2008. The ontrack handle is pretty close to the 2007 figure of $59,505,142 at this point. In 2007, Saratoga established an ontrack handle record of $123,018,041.
All-sources handle, which includes money bet on Saratoga's races from simulcast outlets, is $254,161,729, up 4.8 percent from $242,544,415 in 2008. The daily average all-sources handle is $14,120,096, compared to $13,474,690 in 2008. All-sources handle is down $25.1 million compared to 2007, a year in which Saratoga enjoyed its second-biggest all-sources handle.
There have been three more races (180 versus 177) run this year than last year, and total betting interests have increased 11.9 percent from 1,392 to 1,558. There have been 84 turf races run and only 10 taken off, compared to 56 on and 27 off through the first half of 2008.
"The first three weeks have been classic Saratoga; good weather and large competitive fields, and our customers on- and offtrack have responded enthusiastically," NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward said. "With three weeks in the books, we still have many of the marquee races in front of us."
Del Mar ontrack averages rise
By Steve Andersen
Del Mar has shown significant gains in average attendance and handle through the first half of the Del Mar meeting, figures helped greatly by running one fewer day per week this year.
Through Sunday, the 20th of 37 days of racing, average attendance was up 11.8 percent, increasing from 16,645 in 2008 to 18,607 this year. Ontrack average handle was up 12.8 percent, rising to $2,389,811 this year, from $2,118,530, according to a statement released by the track.
This year, to boost Wednesdays, the track is offering free grandstand admission and discounted food items. Ontrack attendance on those days has risen 42 percent, while ontrack handle is up 30 percent.
Including simulcasting locations statewide and nationwide, and account-wagering sources, overall average handle has increased 0.2 percent over last year, the track stated.
Comparisons with 2008 are difficult since the track is not racing on Mondays this year, with the exception of the upcoming Labor Day program on Sept. 7. In past years, Monday programs were typically the weakest in attendance and handle. Monday racing was eliminated because fewer horses are in training in Southern California than in the past.