California Chrome didn’t win the Triple Crown, but within hours of his failed bid to make racing history, the New York Racing Association was nonetheless declaring Belmont Stakes day a success, pointing to high attendance and record-setting handle numbers.
Official attendance was 102,199, lower than the announced (and oft-questioned) attendance of 120,139 in 2004, Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown bid, but the third highest on record. On-track handle (money wagered) was $19,105,877; all-sources handle (money wagered on the races on- and off-site) was $150,249,399. Those numbers are up 23% and17% respectively from the previous records, both set in 2004.
NYRA president and CEO Chris Kay and senior vice president of racing operations Martin Panza re-envisioned the day of the Belmont Stakes this year, shifting major stakes races like the Metropolitan Handicap from other summer weekends to the day of the Belmont, in attempt to “build a day that is comparable to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Kay in February. He also said that the goal was to “introduce the casual fan to all that is great about horse racing.”
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