08/21/2012 11:02AM

Saratoga: NYRA changes policy on release of handle, attendance figures at meet

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association has switched horses midstream in deciding to drop a policy in which the association released cumulative handle and attendance figures at the close of racing on Mondays during the seven-week meet.

NYRA had released the figures on each of the four previous Mondays. The latest release, on Aug. 13, showed that total handle was up 6.5 percent through the first 22 days of the 40-day meet compared to the same stretch last year, although total races during the period this year were 228, compared to 219 in 2011. Attendance was down 1.9 percent.

Dan Silver, a spokesman for NYRA, said that NYRA decided against releasing the cumulative figures in order to get “its finance team more involved in the production of these releases.” He also said that the association wanted to include handle on imported simulcasts at NYRA’s three tracks and that the inclusion of those figures was not possible given the production of the releases just after the last live race on Monday concluded. NYRA offers simulcasts ontrack after its live cards end.

Silver also said that NYRA plans to release figures after the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes card and at the conclusion of the meet.

During the week in which NYRA did not make the figures available, Saratoga enjoyed mostly sunny, mild weather. The Saturday card featured two Grade 1 stakes races, the Alabama and Sword Dancer, and, on Sunday, NYRA gave away a free “pilsner glass” with each paid admission.

Also during the week, New York racetracks were targeted in a report produced by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli that contended that casino supplements for the racing industry had not produced any measurable long-term gains in attendance and handle over the past decade. NYRA’s horsemen strongly disputed the characterization in the report of the impact of the supplements on the Thoroughbred racing industry.