“The decline in all-sources handle at the Fall Belmont Park Meet was disappointing but consistent with national wagering trends,” said Charles Hayward, NYRA president and CEO. “There is no question that the economic climate in New York and around the country has had a negative impact on our live handle as well as the New York State Off-Track Betting Corporations and other simulcast customers.”
Total purses rose 3.5 percent, from $20.5 million to $21.2 million, however factoring the four additional days of the 2008 season, average daily purses declined from $622,116 to $574,036, or 7.7 percent, consistent with the handle decline.
On track, the sporting highlight of the meet was Curlin’s impressive victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Emotionally, the highpoint was the retirement party for the popular old gelding Evening Attire on the final Saturday of the meet. Gary Contessa was the leading trainer for the meet with 16 wins, while Edgar Prado took the jockey title with 43 victories.