05/27/2011 3:14PM

Pimlico: Average daily handle declines

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Average daily handle on races at Pimlico Race Course during the track’s recently concluded 29-day meet fell 24.1 percent compared to average daily handle during a 20-day live meet last year, according to figures distributed by the track.

Average daily handle fell from $5.85 million in 2010 to $4.45 million, according to the figures. As a result of the increased number of live racing days however, total handle on the track’s races rose from $117.1 million over 20 days to $128.9 million over 29 days this year.

Of the $128.9 million total, $76.4 million was bet on races held on one day – May 21, the date of the Preakness Stakes, Pimlico’s most popular race day. Wagering on the Preakness card was down 3.6 percent this year, or $2.9 million, accounting for approximately $100,000 in the per-day average decline of $1.4 million.

Pimlico struggled to fill races during the meet, and wet weather resulted in turf racing being moved to the main track on 11 of the 29 days, according to Pimlico officials, putting additional strain on field size.

“When you lose more than a third of your turf racing because of weather during a brief meeting, the disappointment is played out in the numbers,” said Pimlico’s president, Tom Chuckas, in a statement. “It is a given, grass racing equals bigger fields and a larger handle.”

Despite a large gain in attendance on Preakness day, average attendance fell 24.3 percent, from 8,660 last year to 6,556 this year. Last year, attendance on Preakness day was 95,760, whereas this year, attendance was 107,398.