Average bet amount at Pimlico up nearly 9 percent

Daily Record Business Writer
May 27, 2009 7:49 PM

Thanks to heavy betting on the Preakness Stakes, the average amount wagered this spring at Pimlico Race Course jumped nearly 9 percent despite declines in attendance and total handle for the track.

Total wagering fell $4.1 million or 2.5 percent over 20 live racing days — 11 fewer than last year — to $159.5 million. Attendance fell 17.8 percent to 271,031 for the spring meet, held April 18 to May 23.

The average daily handle, however, rose from $6.3 million to $6.9 million over 20 days of racing and 21 days of simulcast racing.

The Maryland Jockey Club credited Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, for the upswing.

“The buildup to the Preakness was nothing short of spectacular and the race lived up to the hype,” Tom Chuckas, president and chief operating officer of the jockey club, said in a statement.

This year’s race featured increased media attention due to 50-1 shot Mine That Bird’s upset victory in the Kentucky Derby two weeks prior and to Rachel Alexandra’s entry in the race. The filly caught the eye of the nation in her decisive, 20-1/4-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and on May 16 became the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness.

“First, [it was] would she get into the field because her previous owners had not nominated her to the Triple Crown and then, could she beat the boys?” Chuckas said. “The storyline generated national coverage from all the networks which heightened interest in the race.”

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