Track Business Reeling From Power Outage

Track Business Reeling From Power Outage
Photo: AP/Frank Franklin
Darkened New York City skyline after massive power outage in eastern United States and parts of Canada disrupts racing schedules throughout stricken area.
The worst power outage in North American history has resulted in cancelled races and significant handle losses for tracks throughout the Northeast and Midwest.

Saratoga Race Course managed to complete its nine-race program Thursday with a backup generator after the blackout hit, but many off-track betting locations throughout the region had to close. That resulted in about a $500,000 loss in handle for the day, said Bill Nader, New York Racing Association senior vice president.

New York City OTB, Nassau OTB, Suffolk OTB, and Belmont Park, all lost communication with Saratoga. "We got hurt there," Nader said. "We probably lost about $500,000."

New York City OTB was still offline early Friday morning, but Nader said it could be open for business by the start of Saratoga's program Friday.

The Meadowlands, which is one of largest off-track betting facilities in the country in terms of handle, was forced to close around 6 p.m., said Chris McErlean, Meadowlands vice president and general manager. He estimated the facility lost between $300,000 and $350,000 in handle Thursday.

However, things could have been worse in New Jersey as Meadowlands houses the Autotote hub for the state. Monmouth Park was able to complete its full program without incident and the hub at Meadowlands was able to process the bets through a backup generator, McErlean said.

Woodbine in Ontario, Canada cancelled the final two races of Thursday's live program and also called off Friday's program.

Thistledown, which splits a 14-race program daily with River Downs, had to cancel the final two races of its live program Thursday and closed for simulcasting for the evening.

"People couldn't wager but we let them stay in the building to listen to River Downs in case they had a pick three or something going," said Brent Reitz, director of marketing for Thistledown. "Shortly after their race ended we closed for the evening because the backup power was starting to go."

The Daily Racing Form, which is produced in lower Manhattan, was unable to publish a full edition for Saturday's racing. Working from a remote location in Bristol, Pa., the Form was able to get out a product with no editorial content and limited past performances. "It wasn't easy," said Form employee Jim Dunleavy. "We got out what we could."

Most press runs were unaffected by the outage since the publication is sent electronically to various print sites around the country.

As of late Friday morning, there is still no power at their offices at 100 Broadway. They hope to get power back up and put out a full edition for Sunday's race cards. However, some employees were being transported to the Bristol location to work on production of another scaled-down product.

An estimated 20 million people were left without power throughout the United States and Canada, the Associated Press reported.

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