Travers Day Success Boosts Saratoga Numbers

A surge in business during Travers week enabled the New York Racing Association to show gains in on-track attendance and handle for the first five weeks of the six-week season.

The 134th Travers drew a record non-giveaway crowd of 66,122 on Saturday. The on-track and total handle for the day were also Saratoga records.

Through Monday, the final day of the fifth week, on-track attendance was 883,783, a gain of 4.6 percent from last year. The on-track handle of $98,838,702 was up 1.6 percent from the 2002 figures.

"We're going to finish the year in positive territory in on-track attendance and handle and interstate handle," NYRA senior vice president Bill Nader said Monday. "All of our handle outside of New York will be in positive territory. We'll be down in instrastate and that will be enought to drag down the total handle."

A change in New York racing law approved by the Legislature this year ended the restrictions on out-of-state simulcasts. The added competition has hurt NYRA's handle at the state's six off-track betting corporations, especially at New York City Off-Track Betting. Nader said the drop in intrastate handle was approximately $13 million.

"We'll be down maybe one to two percent in total handle," Nader said, ├Ębecause the intrastate has dragged us down."