Average daily pari-mutuel handle for the recent Laurel Park meet increased 34.6% from the comparable meet in 2015, the Maryland Jockey Club reported May 10.
As part of a schedule reconfiguration in Maryland, the Laurel meet was 51 days this year versus 33 last year. Rather than begin the Pimlico Race Course meet in early April as usual, Laurel raced in April and through May 8.
The MJC said average daily wagering was $2.37 million, up from $1.76 million in 2015. Total handle, which the MJC said includes the period from Jan. 1-May 8, was up 7.9% to $151.1 million from $140 million a year ago for dates run at Laurel and Pimlico.
In-state wagering on the Laurel product jumped 25% in large part because of new off-track wagering parlors in the state, while out-of-state betting on Laurel races increased 12%, according to the MJC.
"We continue to see growth in the Maryland Thoroughbred industry both locally and nationally," MJC president and general manager Sal Sinatra said in a release. "The sport is clearly undergoing a resurgence and racing is being revitalized with better-quality racing. More participation from horsemen around the country, and our growing off-track betting network, have helped.
"We've never had such a wonderful working relationship between horsemen, the (Maryland Racing Commission), legislators, and our fans. We are looking forward to continued growth this summer."
Laurel will reopen July 1 after the Pimlico meet concludes in late June. The summer meet goes through Aug. 21. Live racing will resume Sept. 9 after the short Maryland State Fair meet at Timonium.
Average field size increased this year at Laurel, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. Average runners per race this year was 8.27, up from 7.46 last year.
With the longer meet, total purses jumped from $9.73 million for the 2015 winter meet to $14.59 million this year. Average daily purses dropped 3.2% from $295,055 to $285,561.