05/18/2013 7:15PM

Preakness Stakes handle down 3.2%; handle for card rises 2.0%

Tom Keyser
Oxbow leads the Preakness Stakes field past the grandstand for the first time on his way to victory. Pimlico reported a Preakness Day attendance of 117,230.

Betting on the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore on Saturday was $54.15 million, according to the official chart of the race, down 3.2 percent from wagering on the race last year and nearly $5 million off the record set in 2009.

This year’s Preakness had nine runners, compared to 11 last year. Orb, who finished fourth, was the 7-10 favorite at post time, with the other eight horses in the race all going off at odds between 8-1 and 22-1. Oxbow won the race at 15-1.

All-sources handle on the entire 13-race card was $81.75 million, also according to the charts, up 2.0 percent compared to handle of $80.18 million on last year’s 13-race card. There were a total of 120 runners on this year’s card, compared to 119 on last year’s card. Several races early in the card this year easily out-handled their counterparts on last year’s card.

Two weeks ago, handle on the Kentucky Derby dropped 2.2 percent compared to 2012’s record-setting figures for the race, while all-sources handle on the entire 13-race Churchill card dropped 1 percent. The declines occurred on a foul-weather day at Churchill, in which its ontrack handle numbers dropped $2.6 million, a figure that exceeded the overall decline in all-sources handle for the card.

[PREAKNESS STAKES: Race replays and reactions from Pimlico]

After ideal weather Friday for the Black Eyed Susan Stakes and Pimlico Special, poor weather moved in to the Baltimore area Saturday. The Preakness was run under gray skies that had periodically dropped rain on the track in the run-up to the race, though the dirt surface remained fast.

Pimlico reported attendance of 117,230, the fourth-highest of all time at the track. Attendance at the Preakness is highly dependent on weather, infield entertainment, and alcohol policy, and though the weather was less than ideal, two extremely popular rap artists, Pitbull and Macklemore, played concerts during the day in the infield, where bottomless cups of beer could be bought for $20.

The attendance record of 121,309 was reported last year, when the Preakness was run under nearly perfect weather conditions and tens of thousands of fans packed the infield for concerts by the pop band Maroon 5 and five undercard acts.