NYRA concludes 2022 summer meet with record handle and robust attendance
by Pat McKenna; Mark Bardack
40-day summer meet sees paid attendance of more than 1 million for seventh consecutive season
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that all-sources wagering handle surged to a record $878,211,963 during the 2022 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course, eclipsing the previous record of $815,508,063, established in 2021, by 7.7 percent.
The record setting 40-day meet generated average daily handle of $21,955,299, which is also the highest such figure in the history of Saratoga.
On-track handle, which includes New York residents wagering via NYRA Bets, was $152,274,728, or 10.5 percent higher than the $137,765,882 wagered on-track in 2021.
Paid attendance in 2022 was 1,075,586, which is the seventh consecutive season with paid attendance north of 1 million, excluding 2020 when fans were not permitted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Average daily attendance was 26,890.
“This summer’s record handle, incredibly strong attendance and the highest ever viewership of Saratoga Live on FOX Sports demonstrate the enduring and expanding appeal of Saratoga Race Course,” said NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke. “NYRA extends our thanks and appreciation to the fans who visited Saratoga this summer or watched and wagered from home. We thank our owners, trainers and backstretch community for their dedication and commitment to the horses that make it all possible summer after summer here at the Spa.”
This summer featured 417 races, including 218 on dirt and 199 on the turf. Inclement weather forced 16 races off the turf. Average field size was 7.8. In 2021, 416 races were conducted, including 242 on dirt and 174 on the turf. Forty-five races were taken off the turf. Average field size was 7.7.
Among the highlights of the 2022 Saratoga meet:
Klaravich Stables was the meet’s leading owner; Chad Brown claimed the H. Allen Jerkens training title; and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. captured the Angel Cordero, Jr. riding title.
Runhappy Travers Day generated record-setting all-sources handle of $55,559,315 as 49,762 paying customers watched Epicenter win the 153rd running of Saratoga’s signature race.
Fans tuned in to Saratoga Live in record numbers as NYRA’s flagship television program posted its highest ratings ever. Broadcast on the FOX Sports family of networks for the seventh consecutive year and presented by America’s Best Racing and Claiborne Farm, Saratoga Live featured more than 225 hours of coverage and analysis from Saratoga Race Course. This year included the debut of the Jim Dandy on FOX, which also carried the Runhappy Travers for the fourth year in a row.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez secured his record-extending 1,000th career win at Saratoga Race Course when he guided Precursory to victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott on August 25.
Jockey Joel Rosario set a Saratoga record for most graded stakes victories in a single meet with 12, including his win aboard Epicenter in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers.
Jackie’s Warrior became the first horse to win a Grade 1 stakes three years in a row at Saratoga with his victory in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on July 30. The trifecta included wins in the 2021 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial and 2020 Runhappy Hopeful.
The Wilson Chute made its return to Saratoga Race Course after being dismantled 50 years ago. NYRA reconstructed the historic chute to allow for one-mile races to be contested on the main track.
NYRA continued to make capital investments in Saratoga with the debut of the Paddock Suite, a climate-controlled hospitality area with sweeping views of the Saratoga paddock, located above the newly renovated Post Bar.
In partnership with CDTA and Old Tavern Farm, NYRA launched the Saratoga Breakfast and Breeding Farm Tour, which sold out prior to the start of the season. Each Friday, guests enjoyed breakfast at Saratoga Race Course followed by a trolley ride to nearby Old Tavern Farm, where they embarked on a 90-minute guided walking tour of an active thoroughbred breeding farm.
Saratoga Race Course hosted the Budweiser Clydesdales for the first time in more than 15 years. Thousands of fans turned out in mid-August to enjoy photo opportunities with the Clydesdales and to witness them parade on the main track in front of the grandstand.
The Taste NY Pavilion at Saratoga Race Course featured a wide selection of New York craft beers, hard cider, wines and spirits from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks and Saratoga to Cooperstown as a showcase of the state’s robust food and beverage industry.
Live racing on the NYRA circuit will resume on Thursday, September 15 with the opening of Belmont at the Big A. Headlined by four Grade 1 races and six “Win and You’re In” qualifiers to the Breeders’ Cup in November at Keeneland, Belmont at the Big A will feature 23 graded events among 41 stakes worth $9.9 million in total purses. Live racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday.
For more information, visit NYRA.com.
About the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA)
NYRA holds the exclusive franchise to conduct thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of New York State’s horse racing industry, which is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual economic impact. For additional information, visit NYRA.com.