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Rick Samuels

BC Prepared for Handle Hit After Hurricane

Wagering outlets in the Northeast are open, but people are dealing with storm damage.

The Breeders' Cup World Championships is prepared to take a hit in pari-mutuel handle given the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast even though many wagering outlets were back in operation Nov. 2.

The storm, which hit with force Oct. 28, caused some early-week live racing cancellations but also produced widespread power outages that continue. Major betting facilities such as Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Meadowlands were open Nov. 2, but the public is dealing with severe storm damage.

"We have to be realistic," Breeders' Cup chief operating officer Bob Elliston said at Santa Anita Park, this year's host track. "These people have their minds on other things. We'll probably take a pretty good hit (in handle) on the East Coast, but Breeders' Cup understandably isn't the most pressing thing in New Jersey and New York."

Aqueduct kicked off its fall meet Nov. 2, while Meadowlands canceled its live turf cards for Nov. 2-3. Freehold Raceway is open for simulcasts only as well, and two major off-track betting facilities in New Jersey–Woodbridge Township and Bayonne–also are open.

Further south racetracks and wagering outlets were open Nov. 2, including Delaware Park and Laurel Park.

There are other complications from Hurricane Sandy, however. At Aqueduct, for instance, there were no programs or copies of Daily Racing Form earlier in the day Nov. 2. DRF on Twitter said copies of the newspaper may only be available at betting outlets because of hurricane-related issues.

When Santa Anita last hosted the World Championships in 2009, the Friday handle was $50.6 million and the Saturday handle was $102.6 million. Last year at Churchill Downs, Friday wagering totaled $52 million, while Saturday handle was $109.4 million.