A hard winter contributed to a significant decline in Aqueduct's on-track handle and attendance at the recently-concluded 83-day winter-spring meeting, while total handle dipped slightly, the New York Racing Association reported.On track, daily average total handle was off 4.8% from $1,574,086 in 2002 to $1,497,917 in 2003. The daily average on Aqueduct races declined 10.1% from 945,030 in 2002 to $849,868 in 2003.Daily average attendance was off 9.4% to 4,763 from 5,256 in '02. The 2002 racing season stretched 87 days. Daily average total handle dipped 1.7% while daily average total handle on Aqueduct races slipped 2.1%.
The total handle, including on-track simulcasting, averaged $9,076,903 in 2003 compared to '02's average of $9,236,441. The daily averages on Aqueduct races only edged down from $8,607,384 in 2002 to $8,428,854 in 2003."It was a long, hard winter and that had a serious effect on our meet," said NYRA President and COO Terry Meyocks. "That is beyond our control. We lost five days of racing compared to one over the comparable period last year. Taking that into consideration, our overall numbers were very good. If anybody had predicted the weather we would have, I would have thought our total handles would be off by more than 1.7 and 2.1 percent. The quality of our winter racing has improved over the past several years and it is good, competitive racing. "The good news is we finished strong," Meyocks continued. "We were up 11 of the last 14 days of the meet and we hope to build on that at Belmont. And hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate.Total handle for the meet including on-track simulcasting was $753,382,950 while total handle on Aqueduct only added up to $699,594,852. On-track total handle was $124,327,102. On-track handle on Aqueduct only was $70,539,004. A total of 395,315 attended Aqueduct during the season.