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Monday, December 29, 2008

22,780 A Day

- In reading this long article on The Journal News' site about crime statistics at the Yonkers racino and a not particularly scintillating controversy over the reporting of such, I was astounded to read:

An average of 22,780 people visit the raceway daily, according to the New York Lottery.
Don't think I've ever seen attendance figures for any of the racinos before (Saratoga's average was reported to be 5,838), and maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. After all, they're open all day and most of the night long, and it's not like you can play them from home. But still, as a fan of a gambling endeavor which, in New York City, can't even draw enough people to make collecting admission worthwhile at Aqueduct, seeing those numbers is rather humbling; especially for what is, to me and I'm sure to many of you, a comparatively vapid, depressing, and bordering-on-morbid pursuit.

I also recall the time when 22,780 really did come to Yonkers to do nothing but bet on the horses. I was checking out a little Yonkers history, and came upon the fact that On December 15, 1969, Yonkers racetrack achieved its highest ever single-night handle -- $3,220,686. No OTB then, so this was all on-track handle. I don't imagine they handle nearly that much on track in an entire month of racing these days.

Still, I at least do get a little encouragement from the mere fact that so many people would actually put forth such an effort as to make their way to Yonkers to gamble in any fashion. Just can't help but believe that, with some nice facilities and extra amenities, and with at least some weekday racing at night, horse racing could fare at least modestly better as a live sport than it does now.

As far as the crime stats go, the bulk of the 145 arrests reported in 2007 concerned expected matters such as disorderly conduct, trespassing, and petty larceny. However, there was one arrest each for criminal impersonation, domestic dispute, obscenities, person exposing self, sex offense, and - my favorite - gambling. I hope they threw the book at that guy!


Anonymous said...

That's a lot of folks sitting in front of those video machines! Has anyone ever thought that perhaps the Yonker's owners were doing their best to slow down VLT's at Aqueduct and certainly starting them at Belmont? Some businesses eventually purchase their competition, but in this case, Yonkers doesn't have to because the competition never got started!

Anonymous said...

Alan, which big name standardbred was the draw at Yonkers on the record pari-mutuel take evening of Dec 15 '69? Cardigan Bay? Nevele Pride? My memory says it was most likely a horse trained and driven by either Billy Haughton or Stanley Dancer!

Brings back good memories of the evenings we B.U. students would hit the trots at Suffolk or Rockingham,ride would leave Boston nightly at 6:30 to get up to Salem in plenty of time for the DD. If you arrived late, as the first race was going off, you might snag a good parking place near the door thanks to the bookie runner who had just laid off the day's trot action and was headed back to Boston. /S/greenmtnpunter

Alan Mann said...

Green Mtn - Had to look this up, as I'm happy to report that 1969 was a bit before my racetrack time. And in fact, there was no particular attraction other than the fact that it was the last day of racing for the year in NY; Aqueduct ran its closing card that afternoon. Over 19,000 were in attendance, and it marked the first time in harness racing history that handle on a single race exceeded $400,000. People had to get their action in since Roosevelt wouldn't be opening until - gasp - January 3 (the horror), when more than 28,000 braved snowy weather to open the season there.

Fascinating stuff, so much so that I think I'll shortly do a separate post about the articles I found.

Anonymous said...

Record $3.2-Million Bet at Yonkers Finale;; DOUBLE WAGERING ALSO A TROT MARK Total of $281,374 in Pool -Single-Race Bet Records Broken in 3 Events
By LOUIS EFFRATSpecial to The New York Times

December 16, 1969, Tuesday

Page 62, 436 words

YONKERS, Dec. 15 -- World harness-racing betting records toppled tonight nearly as often as heavyweight wrestlers during a tag-team match as the 1969 local season was concluded before 24,176 fans at Yonkers Raceway. [ END OF FIRST PARAGRAPH ]

Better yet, this was a Monday night and it snowed all day Sunday and part of Monday as well.

My $$ is on Buddy Gilmour. Don't feel like sending $3.95 to Punch to find out.

Bank Check

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the follow up. In my B.U.student days, mid-late 60', I had fellow racing fans hailing from the NY metro area who were big harness fans and had many tall tales to tell about Roosevelt Raceway. Carmine Abatiello was the local fave in those days, Buddy Gilmour, but Haughton and Dancer were the big stakes guys on the order of Mott, Zito, Frankel, Baffert, Pletcher et al combined with Bailey, Stevens, Day, Prado, et al.

As do you, I find it interesting to see the level of betting action in those pre-casino days, even on standardbreds. We always liked the country fair atmosphere of the standardbred circuit, the horsemen were much more average Joes who loved horses as compared to the big dough types who raced runners.
The correlation between horse betting action and casino presence is undeniable- and discouraging.