Laurel Park Sees Sharp Spike in Handle During Fall Festival of Racing
The interest in Maryland racing continues to rise.
Following Saturday’s Fall Festival of Racing at Laurel Park, the Maryland Jockey Club reported the big gains in handle. Saturday’s handle increased 19.6% over last year, as the 11-race program generated a total handle of $4.513 million compared to $3.775 million in 2015. The in-state handle was up 16.4% as the expansion of the Maryland Jockey Club’s off-track betting facilities triggered additional growth.
“We were pleased with Saturday’s handle as well as the crowd that came out to watch a great race card,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We want to thank everyone who came out and enjoyed our renovated facility, those who bet the program on-line or at simulcast facilities, and those who came out for the Brew & Bourbon Festival. We also want to thank horsemen locally and nationally who continue to support our program.
“We want to continue to offer fans and horsemen these spectacular programs and events. Fans like the renovations we’ve made and horsemen love the new barns and improvements to the backside. Our Sunday program continues to build as well with dining options and Fantasy Football. We’re going to continue to work hard because we believe there’s tremendous potential in Maryland.”
That potential is being realized. Saturday’s feature race was the $250,000 De Francis Dash (G3), won by 6-year-old Ivan Fallunovalot, his first stakes win. It was also the first stakes victory for formerly retired jockey Calvin Borel, who returned to riding five months ago.
The increases on Fall Festival continued a growing trend in the Maryland Thoroughbred industry. On Oct. 22, total handle on Jim McKay Maryland Million Day was up 18.5 percent over the previous year and a whopping 59.8 percent over 2014.
Earlier this year, the 141st Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, set all-time records in total handle ($94.127 million) and attendance (135,256). Black-Eyed Susan Day also had increases over the previous year with total handle of $18.661 million compared to $17.815 in 2015.
The Maryland Jockey Club expects to take in $425 million in total handle this year, an increase from $355 million in 2015 and $296 million in 2014.