Despite rainy start, race course sees rebound

Attendance and handle rebounded significantly during the second half of the 140th Saratoga Race Course meeting as three weeks of rain yielded to 18 racing days of sunshine and pleasant temperatures, according to the New York Racing Association.

Declines in attendance and on-track handle over 2007 numbers through week three were cut nearly in half as the meet wrapped up.

Attendance for the meeting was down 9.8 percent over 2007, a dramatic improvement from the decline of 18.9 percent posted through week three.

On-track handle is down 7.2 percent over 2007, substantially up from the decrease of 13.5 percent posted through week three.

All-sources handle is down 10.2 percent over 2007, compared to down 13.2 percent through week three.

Projected attendance for the 2008 meet is 864,363, down from 958,574, with daily averages of 24,010 compared to 26,627 in 2007.

Projected on-track handle at Saratoga is $114,218,266, down from $123,018,042 in 2007, with daily averages of $3,172,730 compared to $3,417,168 in 2007.

Projected all-sources handle was $523,080,630, down from $582,656,105 in 2007, with daily averages of $14,530,018 compared to $16,184,892 in 2007.

A total of 359 races were run at the 2008 Saratoga meeting, compared to 347 in 2007, but brutal weather during the first half of the meet led to a 1.8 percent decline in total betting interests (2,919 compared to 2,971 in 2007), a major contributor to the drop in handle. Although no races were taken off the turf since midway through week four, final totals still show a 14 percent drop in turf races from 2007, with 141 races on the turf in 2008 (including seven steeplechases), down from 164 in 2007, and 35 races taken off the turf, compared to only six in 2007. A total of 144 betting interests were scratched in the 35 off-the-turf races, with only 65 main-track-only entries replacing them.

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