Handle Up 33% on Belmont Day

Edited press release, the California-based online wagering service, handled $3.4 million June 11, Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day, to bring its three-day Triple Crown total to $9.5 million. In 2003, the last time offered wagering on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and Belmont, total handle was $6.5 million, the company said.

This year's Belmont day handle was up 33% from 2004. Of the $3.4 million wagered, $1.8 million was on Belmont Park races, up 28% from last year when Smarty Jones attempted to win the Triple Crown. This year, no Crown was on the line.

"The increase in our 2005 Belmont handle is significant because it was achieved without the media build-up that accompanied the 2003 and 2004 races when Funny Cide and Smarty Jones had chances to win the Crown," chief executive officer Charles Champion said in a release. "Some of the improvement in our performance results from our own marketing prowess, but perhaps as important, some of our success also is attributable to a revival in fan enthusiasm generated by a combination of star-quality Thoroughbreds and greater race access via the Internet."

The 2005 Triple Crown days rank among the top handle-producing days in company history. The company posted its highest daily handle ever at $4.2 million on Derby day. Preakness day ranks third on the all-time list at $3.5 million, while the Belmont total is the fourth highest, the company reported.

Champion said 94% of the wagers handled June 11 by were placed by customers who live more than 25 miles from Belmont Park. He also said customers made more than $1.1 million in advance deposits on the day of the Belmont, and that at peak wagering times, the Web site served the concurrent needs of nearly 8,000 customers, also a record.