Despite conditions, Preakness Day handle was hardly all wet

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: May 21, 2018

Despite an average decline of more than two horses per race from 2017, the May 19 Preakness Stakes program generated total pari-mutuel wagering of $93,655,128, down only 3.6% from last year’s record handle of $97,168,658.

The Preakness card and May 18 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes program were impacted by consistent rain that began earlier in the week and didn’t let up until late Saturday afternoon. Average field size for 14 races Preakness day was 6.64, while the day before, the average for 14 races was 7.28.

Maryland Jockey Club President Sal Sinatra indicated the numbers were strong given the circumstances. The track was rated sloppy both days, and numerous races were moved from the turf to dirt.

“It’s amazing that under the conditions, the fact field size was 6.6 compared to 8.9 the year before, and we lost four turf races, our handle was $93 million,” Sinatra said. (Preakness winner) Justify and all our equine and human athletes put on a memorable show. I want to thank all of the fans who attended and wagered on our races Saturday. They are truly remarkable.”

The handle figure is the third-highest in Preakness history, as is the reported attendance figure of 134,487.

Handle on the May 18 program totaled $18,591,459, down 6.5% from $19,895,000 in 2017. The MJC reported a record attendance of 48,265 for Black-Eyed Susan Stakes day.

(Pimlico photo by Tom LaMarra)