Laurel's Handle Continues Upward Swing

(from Maryland Jockey Club release)
The Maryland Jockey Club concluded its winter meet at Laurel Park on Sunday, posting total wagering figures that are nearly 24% higher than the same dates a year ago.

All-sources handle totaled $321 million for the 2006 winter meet, compared to $259.7 million for the first 15 weeks of 2005. The average daily handle was up more than 27%, from just over $3 million a day to nearly $3.9 million, with two fewer live days conducted this year.

"The Laurel winter meeting was a carry-over from the fall when we were up 30%," said Lou Raffetto, MJC president and chief operating officer. "We held our own during the equine herpes period when there were quarantines around the East Coast. It is indicative of how strong the program is here and people around the country have responded."

For the first time ever during a winter stand, the Laurel Park racing office carded races on the grass. The Laurel Park turf course, which was widened from 75 feet to 142 feet last year, helped make the track a top simulcast signal with an average of 11.6 starters per grass race. Export numbers were up more than 55% from last winter.