On-track wagering posted a strong gain over 2010 as the 143rd race meet at Saratoga Race Course wrapped up Sept. 5, though all-sources handle dipped over the course of the 39-day stand, according to statistics provided by the New York Racing Association.
Total attendance for the meet was 871,772, down 0.7% from 878,284 for the 40-day meet in 2010. Daily average attendance of 22,353 was up 1.8% from 21,957 in 2010.
On-track handle totaled $121,101,664, up 5.6% from $114,693,168 last year. Daily average on-track handle was $3,105,171, up 8.3% from $2,867,329 in 2010.
All-sources handle, which includes wagers on Saratoga races both on-track and from simulcast outlets nationwide, was $526,251,818, down 4.6% from $551,660,726 in 2010. Daily average all-sources handle was $13,493,636, down 2.2% from $13,791,518 last year.
Wagering at the downstate Belmont Café and Aqueduct simulcast facilities was $19,175,951, resulting in a combined on-track handle of $140,277,615, up 10.7% from $126,761,875 in 2010. Daily average combined on-track handle was $3,596,862, up 13.5% from $3,169,047 last year.
There were 397 races run this year over 39 days, compared to 395 over 40 days in 2010. Average betting interests per race were 8.2 (3,269 total) compared to 8.4 (3,314 total) in 2010. Turf races totaled 158 with 41 taken off the turf, compared to 187 on and 24 off in 2010.
Owner Mike Repole, trainer Todd Pletcher, and jockey John Velazquez completed consecutive seasons atop the leader board at the prestigious meet.
The race for leading owner between Repole and Michael Dubb came down to the wire, with Dubb tying Repole at 15 wins in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon when Grace Hall captured the Grade 1 Spinaway. The tie was short-lived as Repole won the next race on the card, a turf sprint with Silver Screamer, his final starter of the meet, for his 16th victory. Dubb was winless in three starts Monday, preserving Repole’s narrow advantage.
Helped by his Travers (gr. I) victory with Stay Thirsty, Repole finished the meet with $1,485,280 in purse money and edged Michael Dubb, 16-15, in total victories.
Pletcher won his eighth Saratoga meet title and set a new season record, earning the H. Allen Jerkens training title with 38 winners. The previous mark was 36, which Pletcher set last year. His 149 starters in 2011 earned more than $3 million in purse money.
Velazquez’s 54 winners at Saratoga in 2011 propelled him to second all-time leading rider at the Spa with 655 career victories. NYRA announced this summer that the Saratoga jockey title would be named after Hall of Famer Angel Cordero, Jr., agent and mentor to Velazquez. Cordero retired with 649 Saratoga victories and both he and Velazquez trail Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey who visited the Saratoga winner’s circle 693 times during his career.
Of Velazquez’s wins this summer, 31 came for Pletcher, and the rider carried Repole’s blue and orange colors for nine of those.
Thoroughbred racing moves downstate to Belmont Park for the 37-day fall meet Sept. 10 through Oct 30.