12/03/2014 3:42PM

Aqueduct handle drops by $26.1M from last year

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Coming off a Belmont fall meet for which handle was down $32.1 million from last year, the New York Racing Association experienced another down meet business-wise at Aqueduct, where all-sources handle was down $26.1 million from last fall.

According to numbers compiled by Daily Racing Form , all-sources handle for the 26-day fall meet (Oct. 29-Nov. 30) was $158,551,796, a 14.1 percent decrease from last year’s total of $184,654,040. There also were 26 racing days during last fall, though that meet ran Nov. 1-Dec. 8 before racing switched to the inner track Dec. 11.

As was the case at Belmont, Aqueduct’s meet was severely impacted by inclement weather, which forced 42 scheduled turf races to be moved to the dirt – not including the two that were rained off the turf Wednesday, opening day of the inner track winter meet. There were 42 races run on turf.

Last fall, Aqueduct was able to run 50 races on the turf and only moved 19 to the dirt due to weather. This fall at Belmont, NYRA moved 47 races from the turf to the dirt compared with seven in fall 2013.

According to NYRA President and CEO Chris Kay, handle drops 40 percent when races are moved from the turf to the dirt.

Field size at the Aqueduct fall meet averaged 8.0 horses per race (and 7.9 betting interests) compared with 8.7 starters (8.6 betting interests) in 2013.

In addition to weather and field size, Kay mentioned the closing of four Atlantic City casinos and heightened interest in college football due to the new playoff format could have played roles in the handle decline.

Attendance figures for the Aqueduct fall meet were unavailable.