Preakness Card Realizes Small Handle Decline

Though the net result was slightly less than last year's effort, Pimlico Race Course still realized its fourth-highest wagering day May 19 for its 13-race card highlighted by the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) eventually won by Curlin.

A record crowd of 121,263 jammed into Pimlico on a day that was warm and sunny for the most part, enjoying a race day that yielded $87,194,161 in all-sources handle, a 0.4% decline from last year.

Attendance was up 2.4% over last year’s record of 118,402, helped by additional seating in the infield and on the first turn, said Maryland Jockey Club president Lou Raffetto.

“In one sense, 3,000 (more people) isn’t a lot, but in another sense it is,” Raffetto said, noting the limitations of Pimlico’s 136-year-old facility. “There just isn’t a lot of room left out there to put people. Obviously, the building is what it is. You can’t get anymore people in when you sell every seat, which we do every year. You can’t get anymore there, so there has to be growth in other areas.”

Raffetto said he was pleased with the final handle totals, though he thought this year’s Preakness offered a better wagering opportunity than 2006, with the presence of the top three finishers from the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) -- Street Sense, Hard Spun and Curlin. 

“I thought this year’s race as a betting proposition would be better than last year’s,” he said. “But we came in basically on the same line, which in this day and age, you can’t complain about.”

It was the fourth-straight year wagering topped $87 million, a period headlined by the 2005 record of $91,028,704. Handle totals reported by The Maryland Jockey Club don’t include separate pool wagering.

All-source wagering on the Preakness alone was $57,360,494 this year, including an on-track figure of $2,451,207. Full-card on-track handle was $6,792,342.

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