Maryland Handle Edges Upward 1 Percent in 2001

The Maryland Jockey Club reported that pari-mutuel handle from all sources totaled $535,813,090 in 2001, compared to $530,833,234 in 2000, despite the fact that there were three less live Thoroughbred days and 14 fewer Standardbred days run during the year. The increase in total handle was just 1 percent.

"We are very pleased, that not withstanding the myriad of challenges that we have had to face this year, total in-state wagering increased," said Joe De Francis, president and chief executive officer of the Maryland Jockey Club. "We are especially pleased that wagering around the country on our Laurel and Pimlico signals continues to increase, going from $367.7 million in 2000 to $391.4 million in 2001, a gain of 6.5 percent."

During the fall meet, with 9 percent fewer races run, the MJC reported a 14 percent increase in all-sources Thoroughbred handle. Per race, the MJC reported an increase of 25 percent, which the organization credited to larger fields. This year, 8.6 horses started per race, compared to 7.9 a year ago.

"This fall we saw a resurgence in Maryland racing," said Lou Raffetto, the MJC's chief operating officer. "It is quite evident by both the quality and quantity of the fields we put together that Maryland racing has once again become a staple in the diet of every race goer. The reception from out of state bettors has been overwhelming as the exported handle has increased by $6.5 million in the last two months."