Anne M. Eberhardt

Handle Down, Attendance Up at Pimlico

Wagering down 8.7% due to lackluster Preakness; attendance up nearly 10%.

The Maryland Jockey Club concluded its spring meeting at Pimlico Race Course the weekend of May 22-23, posting average wagering figures which were 8.7% lower than comparable dates from 2009. According to track figures, the average daily handle went from $6.854 million to $6.257 million. The spring meet featured 20 live racing dates and 21 simulcast days.

“We expected the numbers to be down based on the Preakness figures, which dictate whether the numbers will be up or down for the meet,” said Tom Chuckas, Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer, in a release. “The build up to this year’s Preakness did not match 2009 when Rachel Alexandra-mania took over the industry. But we were still able to generate the sixth largest handle ever in the 135-year history of the event.”

Attendance was up nearly 10% at Pimlico compared to 2009, as the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) crowd increased from 77,850 to 95,760. Performances by Grammy Award winner Zac Brown Band and Platinum selling musical group O.A.R. in the infield contributed to a festive event.

“We are proud of this year’s infield experience and our partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure on Black-Eyed Susan day which made for an outstanding weekend,” added Chuckas in a statement. “Our staff is meeting Friday afternoon (May 28) to begin planning for the 2011 Preakness. We will look for ways to build on the momentum that began here a week and a half ago.”