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Handle increases at Belmont fall meet

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) posted an 11.5 percent gain in total handle during the recently concluded Belmont Park fall meet, with additional increases in NYRA Rewards account wagering and wagering on NYRA races. Belmont Park's fall meet ran 36 days from September 8 to October 28, 2012.

Meet highlights included electrifying performances on track from a number of horses that went on to find success at this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships. Classic winner Fort Larned and third-place finisher Flat Out reversed their finish positions from Belmont's Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, the centerpiece of NYRA's Super Saturday card on September 29. Royal Delta, heroine of the Grade 1 Beldame, returned to take the Ladies' Classic for the second consecutive year, while Grade 1 Champagne victor Shanghai Bobby toasted the competition in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

New York-breds shined on Showcase Day, October 20, which also kicked off NYRA's fall festival featuring a farmers' market, hayrides, and a pumpkin patch on the final two weekends of the fall meet, October 20-21 and October 27-28.

NYRA's total handle during the fall meet was $335.2 million in 2012 versus $300.6 million in 2011. All-sources handle on NYRA races was $299.1 million, up 13.7 percent from $263 million in 2011. On-track handle on NYRA races alone was $42.5 million, up 2 percent from $41.7 million in 2011. Total on-track handle, including money bet on simulcast races, showed a 0.8 percent drop in 2012 to $78.6 million from $79.2 million in 2011.

NYRA Rewards internet account wagering, including bets made on Belmont races and simulcast races, posted a 17.4 percent gain to $15 million in 2012 from $12.8 million in 2011, while phone wagering was down 2 percent from $8.3 million in 2011 to $8.1 million in 2012.

Both handle and attendance at the Aqueduct simulcast center increased considerably, with $21.0 million wagered on Belmont's races and on simulcast races, a 21.4 percent jump from $17.3 million wagered at Aqueduct in 2011. Attendance at Aqueduct (excluding dark day simulcasting) was up 28.2 percent to 71,416 from 55,689.

Attendance at Belmont Park decreased 14.3 percent to 114,284 from 133,369 in 2011.

Belmont conducted 344 live races with 2,911 total betting interests in 2012 compared to 334 live races and 2,785 total betting interests last year. Average betting interests per race rose to 8.5 from 8.3. Turf races numbered 137 this fall, with 48 events taken off the turf, compared with 121 turf races in 2011 and 66 races moved to the main track.

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