Saratoga Race Course Enjoys Strong NY Horse Betting Handle, Attendance During Opening Week

Written By Mike Mazzeo on July 19, 2022

It may be another record-breaking year for Saratoga Race Course. 

Saratoga generated an all-sources handle of $106.4 million during opening week — an 18% increase from 2021 ($90.1 million), according to the New York Racing Association. 

Last year, the horse racing track set a single-season record with $815.5 million in NY horse betting handle. Attendance was also up to 103,254 during opening week, a 10% bump from last year (94,078). 

“Fan interest and engagement with the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course is at an all-time high. We saw that on display throughout Opening Weekend presented by Runhappy, which generated record wagering handle and a 10 percent increase in paid attendance, Saratoga stands apart as a destination that continues to grow in popularity, and we thank the fans for their enthusiastic support of the summer meet,” NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement.

“Beyond the gates, NYRA is pleased to play a central role in driving tourism and economic activity throughout upstate New York. We look forward to all that lies ahead this summer at the Spa.”

Find NY horse betting action from Saratoga on Fox

The 40-day summer meet at Saratoga Race Course began on Thursday. Fox Sports will carry daily coverage from Saratoga, highlighted by the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 27 on Fox. 

The 2022 summer meet at Saratoga will feature 77 stakes races worth $22.6 million in total purses. 

Belmont Stakes Day had an all-sources handle of $98.8 million this year, down 12% from 2021 ($112.7 million). 

Advocates still looking for ways to bolster NY horse racing

NYRA had been hoping to borrow $450 million via state-issued bonds to renovate the Belmont Park grandstand, but legislative efforts on that front were unsuccessful. 

“I’m confident they can do it. I’m confident that NYRA has the wherewithal to explain it to us why the state won’t be at risk and why it’s necessary. I just think they have to do it, and I would think that the timing should be the 2023 budget in early January,” Sen. Joe Addabbo told PlayNY recently.

Advocates of the state-subsidized NY horse racing industry point toward its 19,000 jobs and $3 billion annual economic impact. Critics say the annual $230 million received by the previously bankrupt industry (2008) should be redirected elsewhere. 

Not-for-profit NYRA runs the tracks at Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct. As has been previously reported, the industry could ultimately be consolidated. Aqueduct, for example, lags behind popular tracks Belmont and Saratoga in handle and attendance. 

Photo by AP / Hans Pennink
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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