All-sources handle for 2006 Virginia horse racing hit a record high of $192,509,054, according to figures released Jan. 22 by the Virginia Racing Commission.
Fueling the surge was a 9.8% increase to $156,534,996 at nine satellite wagering facilities located in the Commonwealth. On-track handle dropped about 16% to $7,673,081. Account wagering contributed $28,300,971 in its first full year of operation with four licensees in Virginia.
“Account wagering is one of the fastest growing segments of the equine industry in Virginia,“ said Peter Burnett, the newly elected chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission. “Generations of racing enthusiasts have fought long and hard, and at great expense and personal sacrifice, to have pari-mutuel wagering in the Commonwealth.
“The growth of satellite wagering has made a significant impact in the increase in handle, which is encouraging for the future growth of the racing industry,” said Burnett.
In addition to serving as the new chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission, Burnett is chairman-elect of the Association of Racing Commissioners International and will take office in April. Mark Brown also was recently elected as vice-chairman of the Virginia Racing Commission.
The 2007 Thoroughbred racing season in Virginia will include 40 race days, which will begin June 15 and continue through Aug. 7. This year’s live racing will feature the $750,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. II) on June 16, and the $1 million Virginia Derby (gr. II) on July 21. The harness racing season runs from Sept. 15 through Nov. 6 at Colonial Downs.