07/24/2010 3:52PM

Belmont handle off slightly at spring/summer meet

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Daily average all-source handle at the recently concluded Belmont Park spring/summer meet was down only 2.3 percent, while daily average ontrack handle was virtually the same when compared with figures from last year, the New York Racing Association announced Saturday.

Benefiting from mostly dry weather – especially when compared to last year – daily average all-source handle, which includes wagers on Belmont Park races both ontrack and from simulcast outlets, was $9,611,993, down 2.3 percent from the 2009 average of $9,841,614. Total all-sources handle for NYRA races was $547,883,624 for the 57-day meet compared to $629,863,275 for the 64-day meet in 2009.

Daily average ontrack handle was $991,377, virtually identical to the $991,603 figure in 2009. Total ontrack handle was $56,508,485 compared to $63,462,612 last year.

Belmont was helped by mostly dry weather that enabled it to run 275 turf races, compared with 229 last year. At this year’s meet, 19 races were taken off the turf, compared with 80 in 2009.

Daily average attendance was 5,096, down 8.8 percent from 5,588 in 2009. Total attendance was 290,494, compared with 357,659 last year.

“The Belmont numbers are a big win for NYRA given the reduced horse population and increased competition from the Monmouth Park experiment,” said NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward in reference to Monmouth’s enhanced purse structure this year.

Hayward noted that Belmont Stakes Day handle decreases of 15.6 percent on-track and 16.8 percent all-sources compared to 2009 figures – record handles for a non-Triple Crown year – explicitly influenced the meet’s total numbers.