Attendance dipped slightly and overall handle was also off for the 36-day season at Saratoga Race Course that ended Sept. 5.Saratoga continues to pace North American tracks in daily attendance and wagering, however."From the standpoint of business and entertainment, Saratoga Race Course lived up to its reputation as the finest and most popular racetrack in North America," said Charles Hayward, NYRA president and CEO. Using estimates for Sept. 5 attendance and wagering, the season finished up with attendance at approximately 933,372 for a daily average of 25,927, which is down 3.1% from last year's average of 26,762. On-track wagering, however, was up a fraction from a daily average of $3,242,486 to $3,256,511. All sources handle declined approximately 5.28% from a daily average of $15.8 million to $14.98 million. Average field size declined by nearly an identical amount, 5.44%, from 8.57 horses per race last year to 8.10 this season.The weather was favorable this year, allowing a Saratoga record 121 turf races, breaking the record of 111 in 2001. For the first time in history, purse distribution topped the $23 million mark at Saratoga, averaging a record $647,325 to once again lead the nation.
Eugene Melnyk's Flower Alley won the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) to lead all horses with $1.5 million in earnings. Carl Lizza's Flying Zee Stables led all owners in races won, Edgar Prado finished the meet with 44 victories to lead all jockeys, and Todd Pletcher topped all trainers in races won for the fourth consecutive Saratoga season.