According to final figures reported by the New York Racing Association Sept. 5, attendance for the meeting, was down 9% over 2007, a dramatic improvement from the decline of 18.9% posted through the third week, when the track was hit hard by inclement weather.
On-track handle was down by a projected 6.9% over 2007, substantially up from the decrease of 13.5% during the first half, NYRA reported. All-sources handle was down 10.3% over 2007, compared to a dip of 13.2% through week three.
Saratoga enjoyed 18 consecutive days of sunshine following the dismal start to the meeting.
• Attendance for the 2008 meet, which includes all admissions for giveaway days, was 872,627, down from 958,574 in 2007, with daily averages of 24,240 compared to 26,627 in 2007.
• On-track handle at Saratoga was $114,563,754, down from $123,018,042 in 2007, with daily averages of $3,182,327 compared to $3,417,168 in 2007.
• All-sources handle was $522,530,643, down from $582,656,105 in 2007, with daily averages of $14,514,740 compared to $16,184,892 in 2007.
NYRA reported that a total of 359 races were run at the 2008 Saratoga meeting, compared to 347 in 2007, but poor weather during the first half of the meet led to a 1.8% decline in total betting interests (2,919 compared to 2,972 in 2007), a major contributor to the drop in handle.
Although no races were taken off the turf since midway through the fourth week, final totals still show a 14% percent drop in turf races from 2007, with 141 races on the turf in 2008 (including seven steeplechases), down from 164 in 2007. There were 35 races taken off the turf this season compared to only six in 2007. A total of 144 betting interests were scratched in the 35 off-the-turf races, with only 65 main-track-only entries replacing them.
“Our business improved when the weather improved, and the 140th Spa meeting once again combined the highest quality Thoroughbred racing and the strongest wagering opportunities in North America,” said Charles Hayward, NYRA president and CEO.