Wagering takes a dip for NYRA
Wagering was down for Belmont Stakes Day, continuing a trend the New York Racing Association saw for the first quarter of this year.
There were 51 race days during the first three months at the Aqueduct Racetrack, 13 fewer than the same period last year, with a resulting 16.6 percent drop in total wagering to $407 million. The shortened racing calendar included six dates canceled at the request of NYRA, which said it was due to safety concerns, while critics alleged it was because of fewer horses being shipped to the track.
NYRA’s auditor, KPMG, which released the financial statements in advance of a NYRA Reorganization Board meeting Monday, attributed the reduced wagering to the shorter racing schedule and decrease in shippers. The reduction in shippers was blamed on medicine rule changes approved at the end of the year, a rationale that is widely accepted in the racing industry.
A copy of NYRA's first quarter financials can be found in Monday's meeting book, which is available below.
Total handle for the Belmont Stakes Day was $88,652,023, which was 8.1 percent lower than last year. There was also a 44 percent drop in attendance, with only 47,562 coming to the big day this year.
NYRA blamed the drop on the excitement last year leading up to the race, when I’ll Have Another was going for the Triple Crown. The horse didn't actually race in the Belmont Stakes, though, dropping out of contention the day before.
Additionally, attendance this year was also 14.7 percent below 2011's crowd of 55,779.
Belmont Stakes Day was very important to NYRA, which was hoping to use the event as a launching off platform with new fans. Part of NYRA's future, according to KPMG, is "leveraging" key events like the Belmont Stakes Day.
A full story on NYRA's first quarter will be in the Sunday issue of the Daily Gazette.
Follow @poozer87 on Twitter.