Laurel Park

Laurel Park

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Average Daily Handle, Purses Up in Maryland

The 2013 figures credit the gains on export wagering on the live product.

The Maryland Jockey Club reported average daily pari-mutuel handle on live racing was up 4.1% in 2013 versus 2012 thanks to growth in export wagering. Purses, meanwhile, continued to increase in Maryland.

The MJC, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, offered 145 racing programs last year. Daily average handle increased from $1.97 million in 2012 to $2.05 million in 2013, it reported.

Both tracks were able to increase purses in 2013 because of the horse racing industry's 7% cut of revenue from video lottery terminals at Maryland casinos.

"The boost in purses because of the VLTs has meant improved quality in the product and has encouraged simulcast players to watch and wager," MJC president Tom Chuckas said in a Jan. 3 release.

According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, average daily purses at Laurel increased from $244,346 in 2012 to $271,758 in 2013. Pimlico paid average daily purses of $379,810 last year versus $333,027 in 2012, according to TJCIS.

Laurel raced eight fewer days last year while Pimlico, home the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), raced seven more days than it did in 2012.

Export handle on the MJC product totaled $298 million last year versus $286.3 million with the same number of racing days.

On-track wagering on live racing didn't fare as well. On-track handle on Laurel and Pimlico races dropped 2% to $26.5 million from $27.1 million, according to MJC statistics.

Handle on simulcast races at the two tracks in 2013 wasn't released.

The MJC said admission and general parking at Laurel and Pimlico, which is open for full-card simulcasts, will be free for the rest of the Laurel winter meet that ends March 29.