The Maryland Jockey Club reported substantial across-the-board wagering increases during the 56-day winter meet at Laurel Park.
With four additional days of live racing over the 52 a year ago, handle totaled $184.7 million, up 22.2% from 2016 when total handle was $151.1 million. Average daily handle jumped 15% to $2.729 million from $2.372 million in 2016. In-state wagering was up 23.1% and export was up 22.3%.
"We're pleased with the success of our winter meet," said Sal Sinatra, president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. "We increased our field size and improved our quality with the support of horsemen throughout the East Coast. The decision to run the General George (Stakes, G3) on the same day as the Barbara Fritchie (Stakes, G2) also created a 'super Saturday' atmosphere and total handle of $4.9 million.
"We want to continue growing Maryland racing," Sinatra added. "We continue to renovate our facility and barn area, expand our off-track betting network, and build relationships with our casino partners. Horsemen and fans continue to show an increased interest in Maryland racing. We still believe there's a lot more room for improvement. We're off to a great start this May and we're looking forward to the opening of Pimlico Thursday and Preakness (Stakes, G1) weekend May 19-20. We will continue showcasing our product and attracting new fans to our great equine and human athletes as well as our great facilities."
According to MJC, the meet highlights were:
—Feb. 18 "Winter Carnival," featuring High Ridge Road's victory in the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie and Imperial Hint winning the $250,000 General George, resulting in total handle of $4.9 million.
—Federico Tesio Day, April 22, highlighted by the Weber City Miss and the Federico Tesio stakes, both Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" races, with total handle of $3.9 million, up 59% from the previous year.
—Laurel Park's 11-race program Saturday, May 6, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) day, produced total handle of $5.2 million, up 38% from last year's handle of $3.5 million.
Laurel 2017 Handle Comparison
Jan. 1, 2016-May 8, 2016
Jan. 1, 2017-May 7, 2017
|Total Handle (million)||2016||2017||Inc/Dec ($)||Inc/Dec (%)|
|Average Handle (thousand)||2016||2017||Inc/Dec ($)||Inc/Dec (%)|
|Dates||2016||2017||Inc/Dec ($)||Inc/Dec (%)|