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Updated on 06/10/2013 1:56PM
Belmont Stakes: Handle on race declines 6 percent, overall card down 8 percent
By Matt Hegarty
Handle on the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York on Saturday was $52.6 million, down 6.2 percent compared with handle of $56.1 million on the race last year, according to the charts for the two races.
In addition, attendance at the track and the overnight rating for a Belmont Stakes television broadcast on Saturday were down significantly compared with last year, and there were significant declines in ontrack handle and total handle on this year’s 13-race card.
Comparisons between the 2013 Belmont and the 2012 running are complicated by the fact that I’ll Have Another, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, scratched on the Friday before the Belmont last year, well after Belmont’s operator, the New York Racing Association, sold tens of thousands of tickets in anticipation of a Triple Crown attempt. As a result, the 2012 Belmont posted business figures well above those of a Belmont that did not have a Triple Crown possibility, even though the actual race did not include the Derby and Preakness winner.
Compared with 2011, the 2013 Belmont compared favorably on most measures, with handle on the race up 6 percent. Ontrack handle in 2013 also was up 6 percent compared to the 2011 card, while total handle was up 9 percent. Attendance, however, was down 14.7 percent compared with 2011, when attendance was reported as 55,779, compared to 47,562 reported last Saturday.
Attendance last year was 85,811, according to Belmont. The 2013 crowd was nearly half that figure, demonstrating the marketing power of a run-up to a Triple Crown attempt.
Overall, handle on the 13-race card this year was $88.7 million, down 8.1 percent compared with total handle of $96.5 million last year, according to Belmont. This year’s card had 128 runners, compared with 126 in the 13 races last year. Ontrack, handle was $10.7 million, down 22.3 percent from last year, when the crowd was nearly 40,000 people larger.
The overnight rating for the race portion of a two-hour broadcast on NBC was a 4.6, according to the network, down 14.8 percent compared with the overnight rating last year of 5.4. In 2011, the overnight rating for the race portion of the broadcast was a 4.8. National ratings will be available Tuesday.
With a $2 minimum, handle on the pick six ending with the Belmont Stakes was $1,203,178, exceeding the $1 million guarantee. A pick four ending in the Belmont had handle of $2,918,807, a record for any pick four held at Belmont, the track said.
Belmont is Beautiful. But, it was a Bad Card & BAD RACE!!! Last Year The way they handled "I'll Have Another" - was UNFORGETABLE & UNFORGIVABLE!!! Then they waited until Fri - to say he was not going to run.
Where was the Gov eating meatballs.
I completely agree with W.G. Although we attended the race, the ban on backpacks, thermoses, purses larger than 12", coolers, and various other items, including even umbrellas was more than mildly disheartening. We were just lucky it didn't rain. I can understand the excessive security concerns following the Boston incident. However, If I hadn't bought our tickets before we knew of this ban on all the items, I'm not sure we would have attended. It's a shame - Belmont is such a beautiful place with a great infield park and much history. But, if these bans continue for next year and afterwards, I'm not sure we will be going.
agreed and not the first time it has happened.
A foretaste of what is to come with the new NYRA management. Do you realize that the official NYRA website at 2PM on Belmont Day (3 1/2 hours after first post) had listed NO scratches and two overweights as the ONLY changes on the whole Belmont card. That to me is inexcusable and a perfect example of the incompetence of NYRA and it's new and "improved" board. Phew, absolutely inexcuable.
People are wising up to how high the takeout is in New York.
It appears the backpack ban did far more harm than good. While well intended (and obviously needed this year in wake of what happened in Boston given we still have a very jittery society after what happened there along with other recent acts of rage), as I understand it based on what I have read and based on what I've heard from others who reported, the ban seemed to cost NYRA anywhere from 12-15,000 or so who otherwise would have been at Belmont (the weather, while horrible Friday cleared by early Saturday morning and was likely a VERY minor factor if it all). Belmont Park is NOT Churchill Downs or Pimlico much like New York is NOT Louisville or Baltimore. While Churchill needs to have the bans they do because the Kentucky Derby is the holy grail of the sport (at least to the casual sports fan) and the Preakness is extremely important to the Maryland economy, the Belmont Stakes, while important does NOT carry ANY of the same weight the other two legs do (even when the Triple Crown is on the line). New York, meanwhile is a city many make day trips to, in the northeast usually using AMTRAK or the many cheap bus routes that either to go to Port Authority or other parts of Manhattan or if in a position to do so use New Jersey Transit, combined from points southwest of Trenton with SEPTA (MUCH cheaper than AMTRAK and faster than many of the buses). Many of those day-trippers use backpacks because such keep hands and arms free and make it much easier to do such trips. NYRA needs to seriously re-evaluate the backpack ban on Belmont Stakes day. There were quite a few who posted on various boards that they did not go to Belmont SOLELY because of the ban, and the ban made it extremely difficult for day-trippers (who like it or not are a big part of tourism in New York) to be able to come in and be at Belmont Park. NYRA lost as much as 25% of what otherwise likely would have been a crowd in the 60-65,000 range SOLELY because of the ban, and that should not be lost on executives at NYRA as they plan security for future editions of The Belmont Stakes and other events like the Travers at Saratoga later this summer. A fair compromise would be for NYRA to create separate security checkpoints on both the grandstand and clubhouse entrances (and at a distance from the actual physical structure) that would SOLELY be for backpacks and other large bags (and briefcases and so forth), so especially those who are day-trippers who use backpacks for such are better able to be at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes day. A backpack ban will NEVER stop a terrorist aside from the very most amateur of such from doing harm (and those can usually be spotted in other ways by people well-trained to spot such), especially if security does their job like they are supposed to. If terrorists were determined to cause something like what happened in Boston at any of the Triple Crown races or any other sporting event, they would find ways to easily work around such a ban as we have seen time and again with the shoe bomber, underwear bomber, etc. If such a ban had been in place in Boston, the bombers there would likely have found a way around it if they were that determined, which many people fail to realize. A backpack ban, while necessary for this year because of people being jittery, was more for show than anything else. It, however, will again never stop other than the very most amateur of terrorists, and NYRA seriously needs to re-evaluate such given NYRA apparently lost at least 25% of a crowd that otherwise would have been in the 60-65,000 range SOLELY because of the ban.
when you turn the track into a paved highway that favors only speed people ignore the closers and you get no action on them...if you want handle keep the track fair...ho and install real surveillance on the cheats so that people bet other trainers not just the miracle trainers.
Keep making the prices higher and soon 10,000 will show up.Nyra treats the fans like dirt.No draw show like the Derby and Preakness.The only times big crowds will show up is if some horse can win the TC.The infield is off limits so the party goers stay away.Nyra only wants the big timers and treat the every day fan like dirt.
Did rain play a role? It was coming down in buckets all night.
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