Saratoga Reports On-Track Declines

Saratoga Race Course reported declines in on-track handle and attendance from last year's record-breaking meeting as its 136th season came to an end Monday.

Attendance fell 8.2% for the 36-day meet, from 1,049,609 last year to 963,432. On-track handle was also down, but not as much as attendance. On-track handle declined from $117,368,204 to $116,729,508.

Total commingled handle was off 1.5%. This season's total was $545,171,412 compared to last year's $553,210,895. All-source handle suffered a similar 1.2% drop, totaling $569,189,788.

Average field size was up to 8.56 starters per race from 8.49 in 2003. Daily purses averaged a record $637,495.

Bill Nader, senior vice president of the New York Racing Association, noted that Saratoga ran its current streak to 220 days of attendance of at least 10,000.

"This was a very successful Saratoga season despite record August rainfall and unfavorable weather on key days," Nader said in a statement. "Our business was compromised with a total of only six turf races through the first four Saturdays of the meet and then we got hit hard with a severe thunderstorm on our fifth Saturday, which forced the Travers to be run early and the cancellation of the last race.

"We had a record-setting year last season and different circumstances this year suggested we would suffer a setback."