Aqueduct reports handle gains; all stabling, training will shift to Belmont Jan. 1

Posted: Dec. 13, 2019

Aqueduct Racetrack generated all-sources pari-mutuel handle of $205,249,710 for its 25-day fall meet, an increase of 49% from the 2018 session, according to the New York Racing Association.

Meanwhile, NYRA also announced that all stabling and training will be consolidated during the winter at Belmont Park effective Jan. 1.

Favorable weather combined with two turf courses allowed NYRA to hold 86 races on the grass and 233 total races from Nov. 1-Dec. 8. Last year, there were 31 turf races and 198 total races during a 22-day meet.

Twenty-two races were taken off the turf due to weather, and the entire Thanksgiving Day program was canceled due to high winds. In addition, the final five races of the Dec. 1 card were canceled due to a winter storm.

NYRA reported that the 10-race Cigar Mile Day card, which included four graded stakes and six stakes in all, prodoced $18,518,057 in all-sources wagering, up 45% from 2018. On-track handle for the 2019 Aqueduct fall meet was $20,712,645, up 28% from the corresponding meet last year.

The end of regular stabling and training at Aqueduct during the winter is tied to improvements at Belmont, said Glen Kozak, NYRA Vice President of Facilities and Racing Surfaces.

“As this change takes effect, we appreciate the patience and understanding of horsemen who utilized Aqueduct as a primary base of operations,” Kozak said.d “The consolidation of NYRA’s winter training activities to Belmont Park follows years of barn renovations and new construction, resulting in a facility that now features 2,500 stalls and can easily accommodate the relatively small number of horses who previously resided at Aqueduct as well as the 1,200-1,300 horses generally stabled at Belmont during the winter months.”

Belmont has a one-mile training track, which was renovated and significantly widened in 2016, as well as two covered jogging barns, each with a synthetic surface, and a quarter-mile pony track.

“Historically, the vast majority of Aqueduct starters have been stabled at Belmont and ship the short distance to Aqueduct to compete on race day,” Kozak said. “That is why NYRA places a great deal of focus on maintaining the Belmont training track in a way that is consistent with the surface at Aqueduct.”

NYRA said it will assume the initial costs associated with the re-stabling of horses at Belmont and will continue to provide race-day transportation between Belmont and Aqueduct. NYRA said it consulted with the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and conducted a full analysis of the main track at Aqueduct to ensure that surface quality and consistency would not be compromised; the  analysis was performed by NYRA and the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory.

(Aqueduct Racetrack photo courtesy of Coglianese photo/NYRA)