With throngs of bettors crowding the region’s racetracks for the Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita, mid-Atlantic handle also improved strongly, increasing nearly 30 percent from last week, to more than $7.8 million, according to our HandleTrak report.

The HandleTrak report this week includes wagering on races run at Laurel Park, The Meadowlands, at Penn National and Parx Racing in Pennsylvania, and at Charles Town in West Virginia.  The weekend report counts wagering on live races conducted on Saturday and Sunday.  This weekend that meant six cards, generating an average of about $1.3 million per card.

Every track in the region saw gains this weekend versus last, led by The Meadowlands, which saw handle rise more than 50 percent.  A combination of factors contributed to the increase.  For one thing, it was New Jersey’s final race card until Monmouth reopens next May.  For another, rains caused the cancellation of Friday’s Big M card, which may have created some pent-up Saturday demand.

Meanwhile, wagering at Penn National topped the $1 million mark for the second consecutive Saturday.  That’s the first time that’s happened since The Racing Biz began tracking the data in early June.

Laurel enjoyed the best single day in the region, as its Saturday card generated more than $1.8 million in handle, while the weekend handle at Parx — which included racing on both Saturday and Sunday — exceeded $2.4 million.

For the region, handle on its live product on Breeders’ Cup Saturday rose versus Breeders’ Cup Saturday 2012 — but that was somewhat misleading.  With The Meadowlands, dark a year ago, added to the mix (and Delaware Park not racing this year), handle in the region rose 5.5 percent this Saturday versus a year ago, but the bulk of that was due to the Big M’s solid handle.  Comparing just tracks that ran both years, handle this past Saturday declined around 7 percent from last year, by amounts ranging from less than 2 percent at Laurel on up to more than 15 percent at Charles Town.  The Saturday handle of those tracks that ran both years was about $5.2 million this year, compared to about $5.6 million a year ago.