Pimlico Racing

Pimlico Racing

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

Total Handle Up, Average Down at Pimlico

The Maryland racetrack offered seven more days of racing this spring.

Seven more live racing dates during the spring meet at Pimlico Race Course led to an increase in total pari-mutuel handle, but the daily average declined, the Maryland Jockey Club reported June 11.

Total wagering, which includes bets made on simulcast races, was $187.9 million, up 11.7% from $168.2 million in 2012. Pimlico raced 36 days this spring versus 29 last year.

Average daily handle was $4.58 million, down 12.3% from $5.23 million in 2012, the MJC reported. On-track handle on the live product averaged $375,000 a day, down 16.9% from $451,000 last year.

In recent years Pimlico has closed after the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) program in late May, but this year opted to run through the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), which was held June 8. The MJC indicated it intends to stick with the new format.

"There were a lot of positives about the meet," MJC president Tom Chuckas said in a release. "We decided to race through the Belmont Stakes for the first time since 2008, which is significant for two reasons.

"The first, we are a Triple Crown track and it is important to be open during the entire series. Secondly, we want to sustain the momentum built during Preakness, but like the policy change made to the infield, it is going to take time for this to materialize."

Total out-of-state handle on Pimlico racing was $140.4 million, up 8.9% from $128.9 million last year, when fewer dates were scheduled.

Purses for the spring meet averaged $379,810, up 14% from $333,027, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. Field size averaged 7.47 horses per race this year versus 7.96 last year.