Edited press release
The Saratoga meet got a quick jump out of the gate, with the New York Racing Association reporting a 14% increase in attendance and double-digit increases in handle during the first six days of the session.
Total attendance for the first six days of the meet was 169,134, up from 148,279 in 2006. The daily average of 28,189 was up from 24,713 in 2006.
On-track handle at Saratoga increased 20% to $21,080,631 from $17,538,037 in 2006 for a daily average of $3,513,439 compared with $2,923,006 in 2006. Total handle rose 13% to $100,293,710 from $88,774,948 in 2006, for a daily average of $16,715,618 compared with $14,795,825 in 2006.
“Opening week exceeded all of our expectations,” NYRA president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward.said. “We had a strong opening day, a very successful sunset racing day on Friday, and the Breeders’ Cup Challenge on Saturday was a spectacular day of racing with a record-breaking all-sources handle for a non-Travers day. The purse increase has resulted in increased field sizes, and the weather has cooperated with no races taken off the turf.”
In all, 58 races were run during opening week, with 533 betting interests and 21 races on the turf (including one steeplechase), compared to 57 races, 491 betting interests, and 20 turf races (one steeplechase) during opening week 2006. None of the turf races were moved to the main track due to weather conditions, while four races were rained off the turf during the first week of 2006.
The Whitney Handicap (gr. I), traditionally run on the second Saturday of the meet, was switched to the first Saturday this year (July 28) to accommodate the Breeders’ Cup Challenge. Whitney day attracted 29,216 patrons compared with 29,918 for Whitney day in 2006, while on-track handle this year was $5,415,416 compared with $5,183,568 last year. Total handle was $27,708,217 compared with $24,394,701 in 2006.