The Maryland Jockey Club concluded its spring meeting at Pimlico Race Course the weekend of May 20-22, posting average wagering figures which were 22% lower than the 2010 spring meet. The average daily handle dropped from $6.26 million to $4.87 million this year. The stand featured 29 live racing dates, nine more than a year ago, and 21 simulcast days.
Rain forced racing officials to move turf races to the main track on 11 live racing days, significantly reducing field size.
“When you lose more than a third of your turf racing because of weather during a brief meeting the disappointment is played out in the numbers,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas in a release. “It is a given, grass racing equals bigger fields and a larger handle.”
Attendance was up nearly 10% at Pimlico as the Preakness Day crowd increased from 95,760 to 107,398. Performances by Grammy Award winners Train and Bruno Mars in the infield and a 14-horse field for the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown contributed to a festive event.
“It is a positive outcome that the inventive strategies we have employed worked on Preakness day,” added Chuckas. “Finding a way to get the folks who come out on the third Saturday in May to come back this fall is a major focus as we move forward to build our business.”
Live racing will return to the major Maryland tracks Sept. 10 at Laurel Park for the fall meeting, which follows a two-weekend stand at the Timonium State Fair.