08/17/2016 11:06AM

Bad weather leads to dip in Saratoga handle

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Barbara D. Livingston
Six races were cancelled at Saratoga after storms drenched the area Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Mother Nature, so kind to Saratoga the previous two summers, was far less so last weekend, resulting in at least a temporary halt to a potentially record-setting summer for the New York Racing Association.

Through the first 22 days of the 40-day meet, all-sources handle was $332,885,255 on Saratoga’s races, a 3.3 percent decline from last year’s figure of $344,347,769 at this point in the meet. Ontrack handle was $79,430,111, an 8.5 percent decline from last year’s figure of $86,774,373.

One need only look at last weekend to see where the difference lies. With management forced to cancel the final six races on Saturday’s card due to bad weather and track conditions, all-sources handle was down $14.5 million from the corresponding Saturday in 2015. With NYRA having to transfer all six of Sunday’s scheduled turf races to the dirt, all-sources handle was down another $3.4 million compared with last year.

There have been 215 races run through the first 22 days of the meet, eight fewer than in 2015. The average field size this summer is 7.94, compared with 8.63 through the corresponding period in 2015.

This summer, there have been 92 turf races run, including four steeplechase events, with 19 scheduled turf races moved to the main track. In 2015, through 22 days, there were 112 turf races run, including six jump races, with only five races taken off the turf.

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Management is attempting to make up some of last Saturday’s lost races. There were 10 flat races scheduled for Thursday and 11 for Friday, including the Grade 2 Adirondack, one of the lost races from Saturday.

The Grade 1 Fourstardave, also scheduled for last Saturday, is rescheduled for this Saturday as part of a 12-race card.

Paid admissions, which include season passes sold whether those pass holders attend the races or not, is 624,314, up 2.9 percent from last year’s figure of 606,258.