10/29/2017 2:27PM

Handle up sharply at Monmouth-at-Meadowlands meet


The eight-card Monmouth at Meadowlands all-turf meet that concluded Saturday evening had large increases in average daily handle over 2016, according to figures released by Monmouth Park officials.

While handle was certainly up, the two meets are difficult to compare because this year's meet raced solely on Friday and Saturday nights. Additionally, six-race cards were the norm in 2016. This year's season began with four six-race programs and then added two races per night for the final four dates.

In 2016, 14 cards were scheduled, but a Friday night and a Saturday night were canceled due to weather and/or course conditions.

The 12-program meet consisted of two Wednesday nights, three Thursday nights, two Friday nights, and two Saturday nights. The meet concluded with Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday daytime cards.

The most popular betting cards last year were Friday and Saturday nights, when ontrack handle was much better than other days of the week.

This year's meet averaged $151,422 per night ontrack, an increase of 82 percent over last year's ontrack average of $83,230. Simulcast handle averaged $1,343,628 per card, up 36 percent from $988,797 in 2016.

Weather was excellent for this year's meet, and field size averaged 9.93 runners per race, up from 9.03 runners a year ago.

"It's no secret that full fields and turf racing are a winning formula, and we’ll look to build on this season's success next year and for years to come," said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, operators of the Monmouth-at-Meadowlands meet.  

Victor Lebron rode eight winners to lead all riders. Jorge Navarro and John Toscano Jr. each won three races to top the trainer standings.

Thoroughbred racing returns to New Jersey next May at Monmouth Park.