11/05/2008 12:00AM

Belmont handle, attendance fall


In a sign of the economic times, daily average all-sources handle and attendance were down significantly at the recently concluded Belmont Park fall meet.

For the 37-day meet that ended Oct. 26, the daily average all-sources handle on Belmont's live racing was $9,628,785, down 8.3 percent from the 2007 daily average all-sources figure of $10,498,520. The 2007 meet was only 33 days. The total all-sources handle was $356.3 million, up 2.8 percent from last year's $346.5 million.

Daily average attendance for the Belmont fall meet was 3,987, down 20.3 percent from the 2007 daily average of 5,001. Even with four extra racing days, total attendance was down 10.6 percent, from 165,045 to 147,515.

"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 Corporation and other simulcast customers."

The negative figures at Belmont followed a 10.2 percent decline in all-sources handle at Saratoga. The decline in business at both places led to a 10-percent purse cut at the Aqueduct meet.