Betting drops 2.6 percent at Pimlico, Laurel

Nine days lost to weather

out-of-state wagering up

Horse Racing

January 03, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

In a year when inclement weather wreaked havoc on racing at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, total betting in 2003 declined 2.6 percent compared with 2002, the Maryland Jockey Club announced yesterday.

Pimlico and Laurel Park raced nine fewer days in 2003 than the previous year because of cancellations due to snow, wind and rain. In addition, two racing programs were cut short because of hazardous conditions, and drenching rains during the Pimlico spring meet prevented use of the turf course for all but one (Preakness day) of the meet's final 17 days.

"The good news is that the amount of wagering on our signal outside of Maryland continues to rise, indicating that the popularity of our live racing product continues to grow in other parts of the country," Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, said in a statement.

Betting from all sources - in and out of state - dropped from $935.5 million in 2002 to $910.9 million in 2003. However, the average daily handle rose 1.1 percent from $4.85 million in 2002 to $4.9 million in 2003. Also, the average daily handle out of state on Pimlico and Laurel Park races increased 6.8 percent.

Wagering in-state lagged. The average daily handle on simulcasts decreased 5.2 percent, and the average daily handle on live races fell 10.8 percent. Attendance at Pimlico and Laurel Park declined 8 percent, from 1,646,444 in 2002 to 1,514,097 last year.

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