Anne M. Eberhardt

Attendance Jumps, Handle Drops for Preakness

Attendance was up but handle down for this year's Preakness Stakes program.

Attendance was up but total handle was down for this year’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) program at Pimlico Race Course May 15.

The Maryland Jockey Club reported attendance of 95,760, up considerably from 77,850 in 2009. The increase was largely attributed to changes in policy regarding the infield.

MJC officials said about 33,200 people were in the infield this year. Last year, the infield crowd was much smaller after officials ended a bring-your-own alcohol policy.

Pimlico offered beer specials and other events in an attempt to beef up the infield crowd this year.

“It was a great day,” MJC president Tom Chuckas said in a statement. “People had a tremendous time in the infield. We adjusted the program from a year ago, and will continue to look for ways to build on the momentum we experienced.”

Weather wasn’t a factor this year, with sunshine and temperatures in the upper 70s.

Total handle for 13 races was $79,209,170, the sixth-highest in history but short of the $86,684,470 wagered in 2009.