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Weather affects track attendance

In a development that brought to mind last year's racing season, poor weather sent encouraging attendance numbers down in the fourth week of racing at the Saratoga Race Course, but numbers still remained better than those generated in 2008.

After the first 24 days of the meet, attendance remained up by 1.2 percent at 588,173 when compared to last year's totals from the same time period. In addition on-track handle remained up by 3.2 percent at $74,299,072 and all-sources handle increased 1 percent to $326,169,776.

Through week three, attendance was up 8.4 percent from 2008. New York Racing Association officials blames the decrease in turnout on unpredictable weather conditions and poor weather forecasts that forced 11 races off the turf.

Last week brought high humidity, thunderstorms and threatening weather not seen since the first few days of the meet, but our customers still turned out in good numbers, said NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward in a statement.

Though the meet is more than halfway over, racing fans still have several high-profile matches to look forward to. On Saturday, Aug. 29, Mine That Bird and Summer Bird will run the Grade I, $1 million Shadwell Travers, and Rachel Alexandra was recently confirmed to be running in the Grade I, $750,000 Woodward on Saturday, Sept. 5 (see related story).

Track goers also have one more free giveaway with paid admission to look forward to: a Saratoga-red knit winter hat on Sunday, Sept. 6.

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