Preakness Day Handle Down 9.5% From Last Year

Total handle on the May 17 Preakness Stakes Day program at Pimlico Race Course topped $60 million for the third consecutive year, but it was down 9.5% from last year, according to figures released May 21 by the Maryland Jockey Club.

Total handle on the 13-race card was $64,558,388, down from $71,407,008 in 2002 but up from $62,575,814 in 2001. At Maryland outlets only, total handle was $10,085,846, down marginally from 2002 and 2001. Out-of-state handle was $52,577,206, down about $4 million from last year. Separate-pool betting fell from $4,262,622 last year to $1,895,336 this year.

There were 15 fewer betting interests on this year's program, the MJC said. A sloppy track early in the program led to some scratches.

Handle on the Preakness Stakes was $41,620,145, down 12.7% from $47,695,192 in 2002 but up slightly from $40,694,884 in 2001.

Though it was rainy with a temperature of 50 degrees at post time for the first race May 17, attendance was 100,268, the fourth-largest crowd in the history of the race.

"Considering that it was the coldest Preakness ever, we are delighted that attendance exceeded 100,000 for only the fourth time, and that wagering was just off last year's all-time record," MJC president Joe De Francis said in a prepared statement. "Funny Cide gave the fans a truly memorable performance, and we want to wish him and his connections the best of luck in the Belmont."

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