A record-setting handle for the Preakness Stakes in May helped Pimlico and Laurel Park show improvement in 2002, according to the Maryland Jockey Club.The final all-sources handle for the middle jewel of the Visa Triple Crown, including in-state, out-of-state and separate pools at out-of-state venues, topped out at $71,468,223, a 14% increase over last year's $62,728,672. That contributed to an all-sources handle for the year of $935,027,671, compared to $927,253,048 in 2001. The in-state handle was down slightly. It totaled $527,593,960 compared to $535,650,293 a year ago. "As we have witnessed around the country the trend in racing is that while wagering on the live product continues to decrease, the money on simulcasting keeps increasing," said Lou Raffetto, chief operating officer for the Maryland Jockey Club. An abundance of rain did nothing to enhance turf racing as only three grass races were held at Laurel Park during fall meet that began on Oct. 8. However, Laurel showed increases in wagering from around the country. Simulcast figures ballooned nearly $12 million from $79,046,410 to $90,880,749."The Maryland product has been very popular around the country as we've seen a 4% increase this year and a 15% increase during the current meet," added Raffetto. The export figures for the year totaled $407,433,711 compared to $391,62,755 for 2001.The field sizes grew for the second straight year with an average of eight starters per race, up from 7.7 in 2001 and 7.3 in 2000.
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