03/27/2015 11:45AM

NYRA handle dips slightly in 2014

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Despite a record-shattering Belmont Stakes Day – which out-handled the previous year’s event by more than $60 million – total all-sources handle on the New York Racing Association’s races in 2014 was down $20 million, or 0.9 percent, compared with 2013, according to figures released by NYRA on Friday.

All-sources handle on races conducted in 2014 at NYRA’s three tracks – Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga – was $2,177,979,073, compared with $2,198,393,408 in 2013.

NYRA reported gains in ontrack handle for 2014 over 2013. Ontrack handle was $374,387,425, a 2 percent increase over 2013, when total handle was $367,022,646.

NYRA conducted 245 cards of racing in 2014, six more than in 2013.

That NYRA’s total handle was down less than 1 percent can be attributed to the box-office business on Belmont Day, when California Chrome was attempting to become Thoroughbred racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. With a bulked-up card that included 10 stakes, Belmont Day handled $151,109,373, a 70 percent increase over 2013, when the Belmont Stakes Day card handled $88,652,023.

Ontrack handle on Belmont Stakes Day in 2014 was $19,105,877, compared with $10,700,326 in 2013.

A Belmont Day crowd of 102,199 – plus the daily counting of more than 6,200 season passes at Saratoga whether used or not – helped NYRA post a 4.5 percent increase in attendance (1,732,341 vs. 1,657,661) in 2014.

According to NYRA, its 2,313 races in 2014 accounted for approximately 20.6 percent of the money wagered on Thoroughbred racing in 2014. According to Equibase, total money wagered on Thoroughbred racing in 2014 was about $10.55 billion, a 2.84 percent decline from about $10.88 billion in 2013.