Saratoga Race Course concluded its 2006 season Sept. 4 virtually even with last year's totals for on-track attendance and handle.The season finished marginally ahead in attendance, averaging 25,959 fans per day. Racing was canceled due to extreme heat on Aug. 2, reducing this Saratoga season to 35 days. Last year's meeting averaged 25,914. On-track wagering was down less than 1% compared to last year, averaging $3,227,488 per day. It marked the seventh straight season that on-track handle on Saratoga races only topped the $3,250,009 mark.
All sources handle increased 4.9% from a daily average of $14,946,720 to $15,682,252 million per day. Average field size jumped from 8.10 horses per race last year to 8.51 this season, an increase of 5.1%."It was a very successful season in every category," said NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward. "The quality of racing was sensational, worthy of Saratoga's high standard, and we had the opportunity to see many of the best horses in the world compete in our major races."The weather, as usual, was testing at times, but it did allow for a Saratoga record 124 turf races, breaking the record of 121 last year. For the second time in history, purse distribution topped the $23 million mark at Saratoga, averaging a new record $676,451 to lead all racetracks in North America.