Hampered by Mother Nature but helped by Justify’s Triple Crown bid, the New York Racing Association showed a 3.6 percent decline in all-sources handle in 2018 compared to the previous year.
According to figures released Friday by NYRA, all-sources handle for 219 days of racing in 2018 was $2,113,408,494, down $78.3 million from the 2017 figure of $2,191,731,339. There were 225 cards of racing in 2017. NYRA operates racing at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga.
Average daily handle on NYRA races in 2018 was $9,650,267 compared to $9,741,028 in 2017, down just under 1 percent.
Ontrack handle on NYRA races in 2018 was $326,893,963, down 5.7 percent from the 2017 figure of $346,793,876.
Overall, NYRA conducted 2,038 races in 2018, 52 fewer than in 2017.
Rain was a significant factor at NYRA tracks beginning with the Saratoga meet and lasting through Aqueduct’s fall season. A total of 193 scheduled turf races were transferred to the dirt in 2018, compared with just 95 in 2017. At Saratoga, 50 races were moved from turf to dirt in 2018 and the meet still managed to record its second-highest all-sources handle of $659 million. NYRA reported record handle for Travers Day and Woodward Day during the Saratoga season.
If not for Justify, NYRA’s business would likely have taken a bigger hit in 2018. All-sources handle for Belmont Stakes Day – when Justify became the 13th Triple Crown winner – was $137,954,895. That was the second-highest one-day handle in Belmont Park history behind only the 2014 Belmont, when California Chrome attempted but failed to win the Triple Crown. In 2017, when a Triple Crown wasn’t on the line, all-sources handle on the Belmont Park Stakes card was $93,666,832.
NYRA reported handle during Aqueduct’s fall meet (Nov. 2 through Dec. 2) as $137,213,915.