Don’t tell Saratoga Race Course thoroughbred racing is dead.
For the first time in the track’s history, the 40-day summer meet, which concluded on Sunday, generated an all-sources wagering handle of more than $800 million, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) announced.
Having just established the new record six days ago on Sept. 1, with five racing days still remaining in the season, the meet ended with an all-sources handle of $815.5 million, a 15.6% increase over the prior record of $705.3 million set in 2019.
The handle record comes as the process to launch sports betting in New York continues. There are six primary applicants in N.Y. for sports betting licenses in the state.
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After a year where no fans were permitted on site due to the coronavirus pandemic, paid attendance for 2021 over 40 days totaled 1,046,478 (daily average: 26,162) marking the sixth consecutive season of more than 1 million in paid attendance at the Empire State’s most storied racetrack.
"Thanks to the energy, enthusiasm and support of the best fans in horse racing, the 2021 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course has been a tremendous success,” NYRA President and Chief Executive Officer Dave O’Rourke said in a news release. “This has been a summer reunion like never before, and we’re especially pleased that the return of fans has translated into strong business for downtown Saratoga Springs and the entire Capital Region community. The summer meet at Saratoga is as strong as at any point in its storied history.”
Daily Handle Topped $20M
Average daily handle over the 40-day meet was about $20.4 million, marking the first time that average daily handle has eclipsed $20 million, the release said. That is another good sign that N.Y. gambling is trending in a positive direction.
A total of 416 races were run this summer, including 242 on dirt and 174 on the turf. Forty-five races were taken off the turf because of inclement weather as Saratoga battled historic rainfall throughout the summer. Average field size was 7.7, the release said. In 2020, 409 races were run, including 226 on dirt and 183 on the turf. A total of 32 races were taken off the turf. Average field size was 7.4.
Saratoga’s meet, which opened July 15, saw Klaravich Stables take the owners title with 21 wins. Chad Brown claimed the training title with 41 wins and jockey Luis Saez captured the riding title with 64 wins.
Next up on New York’s thoroughbred calendar: The 28-day fall meet at Belmont Park in Elmont, featuring 47 stakes worth $11.15 million in purses, will open on Sept. 16 and run through Oct. 31.