Severe storms caused the cancellation of most of the Saratoga card on Aug. 8.

Severe storms caused the cancellation of most of the Saratoga card on Aug. 8.

Skip Dickstein

Weather Impacts Saratoga Meet Figures

Edited press release

Severe thunderstorms, heavy rain, and nearly continuous inclement conditions played havoc on attendance and handle figures during the third week of the 2008 Saratoga Race Course meet, according to the New York Racing Association, Inc.

The uncooperative weather was punctuated by a deluge which washed out part of the main track and forced the cancellation of eight races on Friday, Aug. 8.

Through Sunday, Aug. 11, daily average attendance through is off 16.9%, daily average on-track handle down 9.2%, and daily average all-sources handle declined 8.8% compared to 2007 figures. Because of the Aug. 8 cancellation, the daily averages are based on 17 racing days through Monday of the third week, compared to 18 racing days in 2007.  Totals include the Aug. 8 partial card.

--Daily average attendance for the first 17 days of the 2008 meet was 23,099, down from 27,793 for 18 days in 2007, with totals of 405,616 in 2008 compared to 500,280 in 2007. Attendance figures on Saratoga's popular "Giveaway Days" include patrons who pay multiple admissions to obtain more than one giveaway item, either at the track entrance or at the multiple admissions area inside the track.

--Daily average on-track handle at Saratoga was $3,001,246, down from $3,305,841 in 2007, with totals of $51,486,871in 2008 compared to $59,505,142 in 2007.

--Daily average all-sources handle was $14,151,191, down from $15,513,718 in 2007, with totals of $242,452,767  in 2008 compared to $279,246,932  in 2007.

A total of 176 races were run at Saratoga through the meet’s third week (including the two races run on Friday, August 8th prior to the cancellation) compared to 172 in 2007, but total betting interests and turf races have been decimated.  Through Sunday, there were 1,392 betting interests, down from 1,499 in 2007, a 7.1 percent decline. (Excluding Friday’s two races run prior to the cancellation, with 12 betting interests, there were 1,380 betting interests, a 7.9 percent decline from 2007.)  Meanwhile, 56 turf races (which includes three steeplechases), down from 76 turf races (including three steeplechases) in 2007, a decline of 26.3 percent.  Only two races were taken off the turf through the first three weeks of 2007, compared to 24 off the turf so far this meet.

“Although the forecast calls for more unsettled conditions through Thursday of this week, the weekend looks promising,” said NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward, adding that some of the premier races in the final weeks of the meet were shaping up as competitive events.