Updated on 06/13/2011 7:08PM

Belmont Day numbers up all around


ELMONT, N.Y. – Business figures for the Belmont Stakes and its undercard on Saturday at Belmont Park in New York rebounded considerably from the depressed numbers for the 2010 event, according to figures released by the track and television broadcasters.

Total all-sources wagering on the 13-race card on Saturday was $81,245,326, an 8.9 percent increase over the all-sources figure for the Belmont Stakes day card last year, according to the New York Racing Association, the operator of the track. In addition, attendance at Belmont on Saturday was 55,779, a 23.3 percent increase over the crowd last year, despite cool temperatures and intermittent rain throughout the day.

Off the track, overnight ratings for the race portion of a two-hour broadcast on NBC were up 55 percent over the race portion of a broadcast on ABC last year, from a 3.1 to a 4.8, according to NBC. Share was up 57 percent, from a 7 to an 11.

The gains made the Belmont Stakes the only leg of the Triple Crown to have across-the-board increases in the industry’s critical metrics. Business figures for both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes were mixed, though the gains and losses were relatively minor.

The Belmont this year had a low bar to hurdle. Last year, the Belmont did not feature either the winner of the Derby or the Preakness, a factor that contributed significantly to the lack of interest in the race. Last year’s 3.1 overnight rating, for example, tied for the lowest overnight rating in the history of the race.

Handle figures on Saturday were boosted by strong wagering on the pick six. The total pool for the pick six was $1,921,917, including a two-day carryover of $144,003.

No one selected all six winners in the pick six after Ruler on Ice won the Belmont Stakes at 24-1 in the last leg of the sequence. The three-day carryover going into the next live racing card on Wednesday will be $1.13 million.

There were 125 betting interests on the 13-race card compared with 117 betting interests last year. Because of overnight rains and intermittent rainfall during the card, the main track was muddy, then was downgraded to sloppy for the Belmont. The turf course was at first labeled good, but the condition was changed to yielding just before the Manhattan, the 10th race on the card.

Ontrack, wagering was $10,098,573, a 32.9 percent increase over ontrack handle last year of $7,598,840. Ontrack figures were likely boosted by the closure last December of New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, which operated more than 50 parlors in New York’s five boroughs. The closing has limited the options for New York City residents to wager on races and spurred NYRA to offer transportation for New York city residents to its tracks.

The announced crowd of 55,779 was the largest since 2008, when Big Brown was attempting to go for the Triple Crown. Betting and attendance figures are significantly higher for the Belmont when a horse in the race has already won both the Derby and Preakness.