It was pretty much an all-day rain on Monday at The Spa, which was in sharp contrast to Sunday’s gorgeous weather and sweatshirt giveaway that drew a massive crowd. So the 2019 Saratoga Race Course meet seemingly staggered to the wire on closing day.
But despite the small Labor Day crowd and a scratch-riddled card with all but one of the turf races moved to the sloppy main track, the New York Racing Association still crossed a gold-paved finish line with authority by hitting the number 700 million.
With over $25 million in all-sources betting handle on Monday, the 151st Saratoga meet totaled at least $700 million for the duration of the season for the first time in history.
That’s the most significant number of what was another highly successful race meet, but there are a few others that tell the story of 2019.
Here’s a closer look at that wagering figure, and a few other significant numbers for the 2019 season:
That’s the total number of dollars wagered on Saratoga racing, whether it was on track, at an OTB outlet, at a racetrack carrying the simulcast, or through an electronic device.
That’s a 7% increase ($46 million) from last year, and broke the 2017 record by $29 million.
Saratoga pulled this off despite canceling an entire Saturday race card on July 20 because of dangerously hot weather, followed five days later by a card that was halted after four races when an intense rainstorm made a swamp of the track.
The handle on closing day was bolstered by a mandatory payoff on the new Empire 6 bet, for which the pool surpassed $5 million.
Average daily handle for the 2019 Saratoga meet was $18,085,742, an increase of 9.8 percent over the 2018 average daily handle of $16,477,086. On-track handle for 2019 was $146,618,750.
Two other all-sources handle records included $31,835,863 on Whitney Day and $52,129,344 on Travers Day.
That was the projected heat index for Saturday July 20, prompting NYRA to announce two days prior that there would be no racing, a substantial handle hit considering Saturday is the biggest betting day of the week- roughly a 30 million dollar loss in revenue.
A card on Aug. 2, 2006, was also canceled for intense heat.
It’s difficult to choose the day when the chase for the training title was effectively over, but it was somewhere midway through the meet, as Chad Brown continued his dominance by Winning 41 races, none of which came on the last two days of the meet.
Brown’s forte is turf stakes, but he also had some important Wins in dirt stakes, none better than DUNBAR ROAD in the Alabama Stakes, Brown’s first Win in that race.
The rider that day was Jose Ortiz, who Won his third straight Alabama and polished off the meet with his third jockey championship in the last four years.
So while naysayers claim the sport is waning in popularity, the numbers from a small town in upstate New York say otherwise.
Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a look at the feature race for Saturday at Belmont Park. So stop back.