Huge day for NYRA on Saturday, with over 14,000 in attendance at Belmont (11,051) and Aqueduct (3,007) (which, by the way, is open every day for simulcasting); that's as opposed to 9,405 at Belmont last year.
NYRA simulcast wagering on Saturday totaled $4,465,743, an increase of 115 percent over last year’s total of $2,077,461. The simulcast total includes $840,483 wagered via the NYRA Rewards internet platform (up 224 percent from $259,047 last year) and $446,773 from NYRA Rewards telephone wagering (up 91 percent from $233,657 last year).While NYRA wasn't saying in their press release, I wouldn't be surprised if someone there broke out those telephone call figures, into a separate paragraph, as a little jab back at Governor Cuomo and other politicians who have criticized their new arrangement with Twin Spires' telephone hub in Oregon. The Governor may not express any interest whatsoever in the sport, but he knew just where to find NYRA when he wanted a whipping post for some political grandstanding. Some cheap rhetoric designed perhaps to distract from the fact the He Himself chose tax cuts for millionaires over jobs.
The amount of telephone calls that NYRA handled this year on Derby Day was 10,818, a 139 percent increase from the 4,522 calls that were handled last year. [NYRA Press Release]
Well, maybe he and Charlie Hayward can talk it over at the Belmont, if the Governor can find his way.
This is big business for NYRA across the board, as detailed in the press release; and all at the top retention rates for it, and the state (which some people seem to conveniently forget). 3,000 at Aqueduct - that's more than the had there on most racing days before OTB closed. Imagine what they might do there once the place is fixed up, and the sports bar opens at the racino. [Here is where I usually go off about how they should have nighttime harness races conducted by Yonkers on the mile inner track during the summer when the thoroughbreds are upstate, but I guess it makes far too much sense and seems too cool to ever come about.]
Meanwhile, across the river, the trotters are back in action at the Meadowlands; at least for now. After Jeff Gural and the unions came to an agreement, Governor Christie declared, in his usual humble way, that he would permit the track to open to race and take simulcast wagers in May. However, he and Gural have not worked out all the details, so nothing's guaranteed beyond that. Apparently, there was some outstanding and remaining "issues."
Close to 14,000 people reportedly turned out for the opening day on Saturday (that makes nearly 30,000 at racetracks around here; pretty cool!) But other than that, the numbers seem pretty grim. Three day a week racing, total purses on Sunday afternoon of $84,500 for the nine race card, compared to $111,000 through the first eight races at Yonkers as I write this on Monday night. I think it's going to take more than a smaller grandstand to turn things around there.