Anne M. Eberhardt

Belmont Handle, Attendance Averages Down

Overall wagering was up, with four additional days of racing.

Edited NYRA release

The 37-day 2008 Belmont fall meeting, which ended on Oct. 26, produced mixed business results. All-sources handle on NYRA races was $356.3 million, compared with the 2007 figure of $346.5 million, for an increase of 2.8%.  Because the 2008 meet included four more days than the 2007 meet, there was actually an 8.3% decline in the equivalent daily average all-sources handle figure.

“The decline in all-sources handle at the fall Belmont Park meet was disappointing but consistent with national wagering trends,” said Charles Hayward, NYRA president and CEO.  “There is no question that the economic climate in New York and around the country has had a negative impact on our live handle as well as the New York State Off-Track Betting Corporations and other simulcast customers.”

The economic downturn impacted attendance as well, as 147,515 went thorough the turnstiles over the 37-day meet, compared with the total of 165,045 who attended last fall’s 33-day meet, for a decline of 10.6%.   Daily average attendance declined by 20.3%, dropping from 5,001 to 3,987.

Total purses rose 3.5%, from $20.5 million to $21.2 million, with a decline in the average daily purses from $622,116 to $574,036, or 7.7%.

Gary Contessa was the leading trainer for the meet with 16 wins, while Edgar Prado took the jockey title with 43 victories.