NYRA: Gulfstream Product Not Worth the Effort

The New York Racing Association has ended dark-day simulcasting at Aqueduct, and its chairman, Barry Schwartz, targeted the product at Gulfstream Park as the main reason for the move.

Aqueduct offers several out-of-state signals on Mondays, when it is closed for live racing.

"The poor quality of racing at Gulfstream as resulted in a lack of interest in its product, and our customers are not responding," Schwartz said in a media advisory. "Our dark-day simulcasting figures are down 29%, while on-track and overall business on our live races continues to post significant increases."

Gulfstream president Scott Savin disagreed with the assessment of the Hallandale, Fla., track's product.

"That's Mr. Schwartz's opinion," Savin said. "I think he just sent a lot of business over to New York City Off-Track Betting. That's his business decision."

Savin said that through the first 21 days of the meet, patrons at Aqueduct have wagered about $6 million on Gulfstream races. On two dark days at Aqueduct, the Gulfstream handle averaged about $81,500, or roughly half of the total handle at Aqueduct on those days.

"I guess (the bettors) still think we're OK," Savin said.

Schwartz said the average dark-day handle in January was $163,711, "with favorable weather conditions." During the same period in 2001, average handle was $230,414, according to NYRA figures.

Gulfstream Park is owned by Magna Entertainment, which last year battled with NYRA in the bidding for NYCOTB. A team led by Magna was the winning bidder, but the sale never went through and remains up in the air.