(Edited NYRA release)
Attendance is up 8.4%, on-track handle up 12.3%, and all-sources handle up 4.8% from 2008 totals midway through the 2009 meet at Saratoga Race Course.
According to the New York Racing Association, attendance for the first 18 days of the 2009 meet is 439,713, up from 405,616 in 2008, for a daily average of 24,429 compared to 22,534. (Attendance figures for "giveaway days" include patrons who pay multiple admissions to obtain more than one giveaway item, either at the track entrance or at the multiple admissions area inside the track. Through the third week of the 2009 meet, there have been two giveaway days compared to three in 2008).
On-track handle at Saratoga is $57,813,286, up from $51,486,871 in 2008, for a daily average of $3,211,849 compared to $2,860,382. (Racing was cancelled on Friday, Aug. 8, 2008 after the second race due to weather and track conditions. Attendance and handle numbers from that day are included in the totals.
All-sources handle (which includes money bet on Saratoga races from simulcast outlets nationwide) is $254,161,729, up 4.8% from $242,544,415 in 2008, for a daily average of $14,120,096 compared to $13,474,690.
Further, on-track handle is trending just 2.8% off mid-meet totals from the all-time Saratoga on-track handle record of $123,018,042 set in 2007, which eclipsed the previous record of $117,368,204 set in 2003.
Average betting interests per race through week three increased 10% (8.7 vs. 7.9) and total betting interests increased 11.9% (1,558 vs. 1,392) from 2008, with four more races run so far in 2009 (180 vs. 176). Turf races totaled 84 with 10 taken off the turf (all during the first week), compared to 56 on and 27 off in 2008.
"The first three weeks have been classic Saratoga: good weather and large competitive fields, and our customers on- and off-track have responded enthusiastically," said New York Racing Association president and CEO Charles Hayward.