A 30 percent increase in this past Saturday’s handle at Laurel Park was not enough to prevent the mid-Atlantic region from experiencing an overall handle decline versus last weekend, according to our HandleTrak report.
Overall, the region’s operating tracks — Laurel Park, Parx Racing, Penn National, and Charles Town — handled a bit over $5.5 million on their five total cards on Saturday and Sunday (Parx runs both days, while the other tracks run Saturday only). That represented a 6.7 percent decrease versus the prior weekend, with the average card handling about $1.1 million.
With four stakes for the second consecutive Saturday, Laurel enjoyed the best weekend of the group. The track’s Saturday handle increased by 30.5 percent, to more than $2.4 million. That was the track’s second best Saturday of the fall meet, trailing only opening weekend. Penn National was the only other track to experience gains, with handle rising 4 percent.
Parx, on the other hand, had the roughest weekend. There, handle dropped by more than 36 percent, with the two days averaging about $650,000. Likely the biggest blow was struck by the equine herpesvirus outbreak there, which led officials to prohibit horses from shipping into the Bensalem track. On Saturday, that led to a card in which five of the nine races had five or fewer runners; on Sunday, it led to an abbreviated, seven-race card. Handle also fell substantially at Charles Town.