Big Brown won the Preakness, the premier event for Pimlico's Spring Meet.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Big Brown won the Preakness, the premier event for Pimlico's Spring Meet.
Order This Photo

Anne M. Eberhardt

Pimlico Handle Drops 16.5% During Meet

Pimlico reported a 16.5% drop in handle for its 2008 spring meet.

Hampered by a double-digit handle decline on its biggest race event, the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) card, Pimlico Race Course realized a 16.5% drop in all-sources wagering for its 31-day meet that closed June 7.

The Maryland Jockey Club said June 10 Pimlico handled a total of $190.9 million in wagers during its meet compared with $228.7 million for the 2007 meet. The Preakness card, which featured a victory by odds-on favorite Big Brown in the second leg of the Triple Crown, realized a 15.8% decline to $73.5 million for its 13-race card, still the fifth largest all-time for the track.

Tom Chuckas, who was appointed MJC resident and chief operating officer May 29, said in a release officials would focus on getting people interesting in coming back to the track.

“The goal is to move forward and grow the business to include all facets -- the business side, the horsemen, and most importantly, the guests,” Chuckas said. “Our focal point will remain racing, but we have to utilize other avenues and broaden our horizons.”

On-track handle declined 16.9% to just more than $15.9 million, compared with $19.1 million last year. According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, daily average on-track attendance increased 6.5% to 2,424. On-track handle on the Preakness card, which featured a crowd of 112,222, declined 7.7% to $6.3 million, according to TJCIS data.

Daily average purses dropped 12.2% to $273,354, while the average field size was 7.54, down 7%, according to TJCIS.