2012 Belmont Stakes Day saw the sixth-biggest crowd in Belmont Park history.

2012 Belmont Stakes Day saw the sixth-biggest crowd in Belmont Park history.

Anne M. Eberhardt

NYRA Registers Strong Handle Growth for Year

Increased handle at NYRA tracks helped improve wagering total in U.S. during 2012.

In its first full year receiving added money for purses from the Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct Racetrack, the New York Racing Association attracted increased interest in its racing.

All-sources pari-mutuel handle, including simulcast and export handle, jumped 11.8% to $2.5 billion in 2012 compared with 2011. That increase came in a year in which wagering on United States races saw a 1% improvement compared with 2011.

NYRA's improved numbers accounted for the industry's increased handle in 2012. Its $232 million growth in wagering was more than double the $103 million industry-wide handle increase reported by Equibase.

Interest in NYRA racing also increased as total handle on NYRA races was up 12.4% to $2.2 billion, and on-track handle on NYRA races increased 8.3% to $381.1 million.

On-track wagering, including full-card simulcasts, increased 7.9% to $674.9 million. NYRA's advance deposit wagering outlet, NYRA Rewards, saw handle increase 16.6% to $259.6 million.

NYRA conducted 245 racing days in 2012 compared with 240 in 2011. Total 2012 estimated attendance on live racing days at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course was 1,783,538, down 1.5% from the estimated 1,806,865 people who attended live races at NYRA in 2011.

NYRA enjoyed significant gains on many of the circuit's biggest days in 2012. Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day saw the sixth-biggest crowd in Belmont Park history, with an estimated 85,811 fans registering a 53.8% increase from 2011, with an estimated attendance of 55,779. All-sources handle was the third-largest in Belmont Stakes history, up 19% to $98.6 million from $82.8 million.

Two weeks earlier, on Memorial Day, which featured a $500,000 all graded stakes Pick 4, a straw beach mat giveaway, and two live bands, estimated attendance was up 15.7% to 10,577. All-sources handle on the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) Day card also increased, up 8.7% to $15.5 million from $14.3 million. 

This year's historic Travers Stakes (gr. I) dead heat at Saratoga produced a 12.1% handle increase on the day, with $37.8 million wagered compared with $33.8 million in 2011. On Sept. 29 at Belmont, a star-studded card on Super Saturday contributed to total handle of $21.6 million, besting $18.1 million wagered in 2011 for a 19.3% increase.




% change

Racing Days




Estimated Attendance




On-track handle (Incl. simulcast races)




On-track handle (NYRA races only)




Total Handle (Incl. simulcast races)




Total Handle (NYRA races only)




NYRA Rewards