08/19/2014 2:02PM

All-sources handle down at Saratoga meet


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – All-sources handle is down 5.3 percent, while ontrack handle is flat, through the first 28 days of the 2014 Saratoga meet compared with last year.

Having run nine fewer races to this point than last year – 283 compared with 292 – all-sources handle is $377,794,344, down from $399,127,720 wagered through the same period last year. The New York Racing Association has conducted 129 turf races at the meet – including eight steeplechase events – while forced to take 19 races off the turf. Last year to this point, Saratoga had conducted 151 turf races – six of which were steeplechase events – and had taken only 11 off.

Ontrack numbers are mixed, as handle is up less than 1 percent while announced attendance is up 10.5 percent. Ontrack handle through the first 28 days is $101,017,049, up 0.07 percent over last year’s figure of $100,275,678. Ontrack handle figures include money wagered on Saratoga at Aqueduct and Belmont Park, which are both open for simulcasting.

Reported attendance is 672,645, up from last year’s 608,495 through 28 days. This year, NYRA is counting approximately 6,400 season-pass holders in its daily attendance whether they attend the races or not. NYRA is not, however, counting spinners, those fans who purchase more than one admission on days when there is a promotional item being given away with each paid admission.

Two weeks, or 12 racing days, remain in the 40-day meet, which runs through Labor Day, Sept. 1.

Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
No optimistic comments from NYRA management??
Nick Sisti More than 1 year ago
Will everyone just say it the racing secretary and nyra CEO are a DISASTER -- raising the entrance fees when you can stay home and bet is going to increase attendance because the higher price makes it elite? People will love betting 5 and 6 horse fields because they are high quality horses-- anyone look at average field size this year over last? Is it any wonder attendance and handle are down? These guys have managed to screw up the best race meet in the country and that takes real talent!!
Jeff More than 1 year ago
Counting people into the attendance figure even though they might not be at the track — talk about illogical.
william More than 1 year ago
The TOYS R US kid got a 250k bonus, on top of his 300k salary, despite NYRA having an operating loss from racing operations totaling $5.2 million through the first 6 months of 2014.
Joe Seba More than 1 year ago
I happen to own a calculator (and I'm not afraid to use it). Last year the track handle was $399,127,720 for 292 races. That comes out to $1,366,875.75 per race. This year the handle is $377,794,344 for 283 races. That comes out to $1,334,962.34 per race. Now watch this. If I divide $1,334,962.34 by $1,366,875.75 I get (and you will, too) 97.7%! So people bet 2.3% less per race this year. The article here says the take is down 5.3%. Maybe so since nine races is just about a full day of racing. So if you multiple 9 races times the average bet of $1,334,962.34 you'll get another $12,014,661.06. Add that to the $377,794,344 and you'll have a handle of $389,809,005.06 or 97.7%. So the drop is actually 2.3%. And, assuming a conservative take of about a 10% average over all the bets that would mean the track, so far, has accumulated about $37,000,000. I know the purse money and maintenance and the whatever costs but let's get real. Nobody's going broke here. And if that extra day of racing was more then average they might have another million or so in the coffers. I have no idea why an article like this is relevant. Unless it's some kind of foundation for the track to cry poor. Their not as flush (this point in time) as they were last year. Neither am I. But the only meaningful numbers will be at the end of the meet this year versus last year. Reality is reality. If I was a track manager I'd be looking at ways to increase the size of the fields (which ALWAYS generates more betting) and maybe even card an extra race each day. In any case, I could give a f**k about a 2.3% drop in the per race handle. Give the people what they really want (a true betting opportunity) and the numbers will take of themselves.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Be careful "common sense" is not a welcome commodity in the world of racing.
Shawn Britton More than 1 year ago
That is one of the best responses I have ever read on drf. Fantastic !! On right on point
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
How dare you bring facts to a public forum ;) Well said all jokes aside.
Anne Castle More than 1 year ago
Another thing missed in this article is the party group with their tents, restaurant food spreads, card games, beer bong, etc. Some are not even watching the races nor are they betting. Just a place for a picnic and a snooze when the drinks hit home. Some even leave before stake races.
James More than 1 year ago
This is not a bad thing. The boost to tourism that Saratoga provides to Upstate NY is enormous and provides racing with many supporters who do not bet. Without them racing in NY is in danger of going under the thumb of small minded pols.
billybudd16 More than 1 year ago
Welcome to the free whine hour. (see below)
tim More than 1 year ago
Admission should be free. Actually they should pay those of us who consistently bet hundreds per day to come to the track. They need to cut the time in between races in half. No need to spend 7 hours at a race track. Geez. That's why I don't play golf. Have post time at 10am and be done with the last race by 1pm. After the races they should allow people to run around the track and make believe we are our favorite horses.
billybudd16 More than 1 year ago
Its all about you, eh Tim.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Cut the time between races in half? 1st post at 10:00 a.m? Run around the track after the races????????? You must be smoking some really good stuff. I"m alright with the free admission for the larger players
Gene Cirillo More than 1 year ago
Go to the dog track Tim. They run em off very quickly there
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Fewer races overall and likely fewer grass races in particular likely are part of the culprits for the decline in handle, but it would not surprise me if the fact locals pushed Saratoga to have days with jump races start at 12:25 PM ET/9:25 AM PT have not exactly helped matters. NYRA likely loses a lot of potential west coast handle by not having cards start and finish later, plus there is the matter of "The Millennials" (those born after 1980) who have clearly shown they want things WHEN THEY WANT THEM and it is this newer generation of patrons that NYRA has to cater to if they want to see genuine increases (not the "announced" kind) in attendance and potentially handle even if it means teeing off some of the core clientele to do it. As I would be looking to have Saratoga's schedule for 2015 to entice more of "The Millennials" to play: Thursdays and Fridays: 4:00 PM first post with eight races per program (instead of the traditional nine). Saturdays and Sundays: 2:00 PM first post with 11 races per program. The lone exception to this would be Travers Day, which would be 13 races (starting with the New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase as the opening race of the program) with first post at 12:45 PM. Mondays: 12:30 PM first post with eight thoroughbred races followed at the end of the program with (usually) two steeplechase events. The lone exception would be closing day (Labor Day), which would be 10 flat races with the same 12:30 PM post time. I would have Saratoga on a Thursday-Monday schedule instead of Wednesday-Sunday (and the week cut back from six days to five) to reflect the fact that many who do come up to Saratoga do so for a long weekend (hence the early Monday post and the jump races at the end of such programs as Monday is a “getaway day” for many who visit Saratoga Springs in that matter). The schedule would have all Saratoga cards other than Mondays end after 7:30 PM (just after 7:30 closing week) as that would play into what “The Millennials” have shown they clearly want, and that is events to be later in the day as this group has no qualms about being out until all hours of the night even more than earlier generations. It also would have the side benefit of making Saratoga more west-coast friendly (with a considerable amount of additional Saratoga handle coming from the west coast as there would be more overlap with Del Mar) and actually compact the day for those who play both Saratoga and Del Mar, which those bettors probably would appreciate as weekend days at Del Mar can often run past 10:00 PM in the east (Del Mar has no qualms about running past 7:00 PM local time in the summer). There is a reason "Four o'Clock Fridays" are extremely popular with younger patrons at Del Mar in the summer and is something NYRA should look at. The locals may not like a 4:00 PM Thursday-Friday post time, but they will in my view have to make adjustments to accommodate newer generations that have no regard for tradition.
james More than 1 year ago
I don't know where you get your sense of the "locals" or generational preferences but it's not consistent with what I've observed and heard living in Saratoga and working in the area. I'm 64 with racing friends between 18 and 80. All are pretty consistent in their likes and dislikes. Few people like the jump races. I'm pretty sure they're run because of their historic connection to the east coast thoroughbred establishment. Many east coast tracks have jump races as a part of tradition. If up to me, I'd have them run on Tuesday as non parimutuel events at the Oklahoma track. I'd almost rather see a race of NYB maidens instead of the jumpers. Not really, but it's close. Also, the "locals" who are racing fans love the late afternoon post time. It allows us to work for a good part of the day before departing for races. I've read that downtown business owners don't like late post times because it reduces the dinner crowd but I don't think they have much of a voice in NYRA decisions.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
James: I have heard differently with regard to the later post times. Maybe in your case people agree, but as one who has dealt with college-aged adults for 25+ years, I can say there has been a big shift in recent years to being out later and later (I see many of them out even during the week past 2:00 AM for instance, which where I am NEVER used to happen or only on Friday and Saturday nights). The local businesses I'm sure would be upset about losing a dinner seating of the cards went to 7:45 PM or so, but on weekdays, they likely would get a lunch seating because I would also have Thursday-Friday cards start at 4:00, giving people plenty of time to have a relaxed lunch and even do shopping in Saratoga Springs before heading to the track for the day's races.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Well stated.
William Waters More than 1 year ago
James, I, for one, really enjoy the steeplechase races. Today, Wednesday, August 20, the crowd clearly was into the jump race (Race 1). I enjoy the beauty and tradition and uniqueness of the steeplechase game. I sure hope the Spa continues to host them.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Millennials?. I fall under that supposed category barely and find it insulting that you have that view of people who are 30+ that need everything now. 18-25 maybe , but the 30+ crowd are normal form reading folk aswell who respect tradition. You want tradition, have Nyra extend the distances back to 10f for the Woodward, and make the JCGC 2 miles again. Shortening races and carding mostly sprints is NYRA's downfall at the moment.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
As far as race quality.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
I actually agree with you on who "The Millenials" really are as those in their early 30s are unfairly lumped with those in their late teens and 20s. 1985 should really be where the line should have been drawn rather than 1980 where it was. Also agree on tradition. I want to see the Woodward at 10 furlongs and JCGC returned to at least the 1 1/2 Mile distance it was run at from 1976-'89 (in fact, in my plan to have a new International Meet of Champions at Thanksgiving at Belmont Park, I would have the JCGC, Beldame and Flower Bowl ALL lengthened to 1 1/2 Miles PLUS bring back the Display at 2 1/4 Miles and Gallant Fox as a 2 1/2 Mile grass race). That IS what is needed along with a host of other issues. Main problem right now is the same one baseball has: Where is the next generation coming from?
Walter More than 1 year ago
I thought spinners pertained to women who were small in stature?
Shawn Britton More than 1 year ago
Fn funny