Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Saratoga Week Two Numbers

With a few days of quasi-sunshine, business at Saratoga improved somewhat in week two, according to the latest press release from NYRA, but overall totals for the first two weeks were still down from last year.

According to the NYRA release,
attendance was off 16.6 percent for the first two weeks, which ended yesterday; on-track handle was down 8.8 percent, and total all-sources handle declined 8.9 percent compared to 2007. I suppose that represents progress, considering that the dreadful Week One totals showed decreases of 24.8 percent in attendance, 11.8 percent in on-track handle, and 12.6 percent in all-sources handle.

Daily average attendance is now up to 22,326. Of course, that includes multiple-entry spinners for the cap and t-shirt giveaway days. Anecdotally, it has felt comfortably full the past few days, compared to completely empty most of week one.

All-sources handle is averaging $14.5 million a day, compared to $16 million for the same period last year. The declines are more or less the same for on- and off-track betting. Because of all the rain, and despite the endless 10- and 11-race cards, there were only 990 betting interests running so far this year, compared to 1,035 last year, when seven fewer races were run. That translates to an average field size of 8.1 this year versus 9.0 for the first two weeks last year. Enough to make a difference for some serious gamblers.

And despite the $100,000 N1X allowance and all the hoopla about increased purses, total purse money for the first two weeks was up only 2% over last year. In fact, because more, and cheaper, races were run, average purse size per race declined from $82,363 in the first two weeks last year to $79,213 this year.

Not sure what it all means yet. Maybe I'll have an epiphany by morning.

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