Belmont Park posted large increases in attendance and handle for its 32-day fall meeting, helped along by its hosting of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Oct. 27. However, the quality meeting, with many graded stakes races that now serve as preps for the Breeders' Cup, was already on track to better year-ago figures without the Breeders' Cup races figured in.
And any good news figure-wise was impressive in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that hit New York City, and which forced the cancellation of five racing days in its aftermath.
Daily average attendance increased 16.4%, from 6,545 last year to 7,618. Daily average ontrack handle jumped 24.4% from $1,695,837 to $2,109,472. And the daily average total commingled handled rose 28% to $13,410,375 from $10,474,022. New York Racing Association president and COO Terry Meyocks said that "even preceding Breeders' Cup week, both daily average ontrack and total handle were up for the meet (2.7% and 2.3% respectively). It has been a very traumatic and trying time for New York and we are fortunate that business held up during this time period."
Total attendance for the meet numbered 243,769 while ontrack handle came to $67,503,120. Total commingled handle reached $429,131,994. In addition, two single-day handle records were set on Breeders' Cup day -- ontrack handle hit $13,087,814 and the total commingled handle reached $98,835,163.
"I am grateful for the efforts of our staff and employees, and the outstanding work of NTRA/Breeders' Cup and the cooperation of the owners, trainers, and jockeys who all worked together to ensure a successful Breeders' Cup day," said Meyocks. "I am equally proud of the large contribution of Thoroughbred racing to those locally affected by the tragedy. I think the racing industry came through when people needed it most."