Excitement surrounding a fourth attempt at the Triple Crown title in six years, reduced takeout, and good weather are credited with helping Belmont Park establish across-the-board increases in attendance and handle.
The 55-day meet that ended July 21 achieved a 12.9% increase in total handle, a 2.2% increase in on-track handle, and a 5.4% rise in attendance. The total commingled handle jumped to $657,789,145, an average of $11,959,802, from the 2001 total of $582,718,308, an average of $10,594,878. The total on-track handle increase to $82,740,074, an average $1,504,365, up from 2001's total of $81,001,498, an average $1,472,755.
Average daily attendance was 8,459 for the meet compare with an average 8,025 last year.
"The significant rise in total handle since last fall at Belmont has been particularly remarkable," said Terry Meyocks. president and chief operating officer for the New York Racing Association. "This meet has continued that trend. In it's first full year in effect, the reduced takeout has returned more than $37 million ($37,085,000) to fans who wager on our races across the country and obviously that has had a very positive impact on our business.
"Another very positive sign has been the ongoing increase in on-track attendance. There is a strong feeling that racing is on the right track and making inroads into increasing participation in our sport. We will work very hard to continue that trend," he said.