Total Handle Up, Attendance Down at Belmont

New York Racing Association reports an 11.5 gain in handle during 36-day fall stand.

The New York Racing Association posted an 11.5% gain in total handle during the recently concluded Belmont Park fall meet, which ran 36 days from Sept. 8 to Oct. 28.

NYRA’s total handle during the fall meet was $335.2 million in 2012 versus $300.6 million in 2011, which was also 36 days long. All-sources handle on NYRA races was $299.1 million, up 13.7% from $263 million in 2011. On-track handle on NYRA races alone was $42.5 million, up 2% from $41.7 million in 2011.

Total on-track handle, including money bet on simulcast races, showed a 0.8% drop in 2012 to $78.6 million from $79.2 million in 2011.

Attendance at Belmont Park decreased 14.3% to 114,284 from 133,369 in 2011.

NYRA Rewards internet account wagering, including bets made on Belmont races and simulcast races, posted a 17.4% gain to $15 million in 2012 from $12.8 million in 2011. Phone wagering was down 2% from $8.3 million in 2011 to $8.1 million in 2012.

Both handle and attendance at the Aqueduct simulcast center increased considerably, with $21 million wagered on Belmont’s races and on simulcast races, a 21.4% jump from $17.3 million wagered at Aqueduct in 2011.

Belmont conducted 344 live races with 2,911 total betting interests in 2012 compared to 334 live races and 2,785 total betting interests last year. Average betting interests per race rose to 8.5 from 8.3. Turf races numbered 137 this fall, with 48 events taken off the turf, compared with 121 turf races in 2011 and 66 races moved to the main track.

In addition to increases in handle and field sizes, Belmont also experienced gains in purses, which rose from $17.7 million last year to $24.9 million, with the daily average increasing from $491,851 to $690,711.