Tuesday, August 26, 2008
BIG WEEK FIVE BOOSTS SPA BUSINESS
Great weather and full fields during Week Five of the 140th Saratoga Race Course meeting produced increases in attendance and on-track handle over 2007, according to the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA). Attendance was up 3.3 percent and on-track handle increased 2.6 percent compared to the fifth week of the 2007 meeting, with all-sources handle down only slightly at 3.2 percent, in contrast to far greater decreases at other concurrent Thoroughbred meets nationwide.
The Week Five gains, including the second-largest all-sources handle in Saratoga history on Travers Saturday, led to decisive improvement of the meet’s overall numbers, although still trailing 2007’s record-breaking business. Total attendance through Week Five is down 11.6 percent (compared to 14.4 percent through Week Four), on-track handle declined 8.5 percent (compared to 11.5 percent through Week Four), and all-sources handle is off 11.0 percent (compared to 13.2 percent through Week Four).
· On-track handle at Saratoga was $95,977,545, down from $104,891,566 in 2007, with daily averages of $3,199,252 compared to $3,496,386 in 2007.
· All-sources handle was $426,867,025, down from $479,567,196 in 2007, with daily averages of $14,228,901 compared to $15,985,573 in 2007.
Even though nine more races have been run through Week Five of 2008 compared to 2007 (297 vs. 288), total betting interests are still down 3.5 percent (2,377 compared to 2,464 in 2007), contributing to the drops in handle. Key to the decline in betting interests is a 22 percent drop in turf races from 2007. Only 106 races have been run on the turf so far in 2008 (including five steeplechases), down from 136 (including five steeplechases) in 2007, with 35 races taken off the turf, compared to only two in 2007.
“Our reward for four weeks of primarily miserable weather was day after day of sunshine and sensational racing, topped by surely one of the most exciting Travers Stakes ever witnessed at Saratoga,” said NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward. “We’re gearing up for a colossal final weekend with Sunset Racing and a 2:45 first race post on Friday, champion Curlin in the Grade 1 Woodward along with the Grade 1 Forego on Saturday, a cooler bag giveaway and the Grade 1 Spinaway on Sunday, and a free admission Fan Appreciation Day featuring the Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful on Monday.”
NOTE: Attendance figures for Giveaway Days include patrons who pay multiple admissions to obtain more than one giveaway item, either at the track entrance or at the multiple admissions area inside the track.
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