Day 22 of this 40 Day Saratoga meet is now complete.
Here are my mid meet observations and thoughts:
All Sources Handle is up 6.5 % over last year. I think this year the cards at Delmar have seemed pretty weak, and I think the money has flowed towards Saratoga in kind.
On Track Handle is slightly down when compared to last year at 0.8%. There have been a few brutally hot days so far and a couple of crummy rain days including this past Saturday.
Wagering is slightly up (0.8%) at the Belmont Cafe and Aqueduct Simulcast center.
Long Card equals Long Day.
I love movies, I just don't love them as much when they go over 2 hours, and I don't like race days with 11 and 12 races. It's just too long for the average fan to stay and bet. Saturday was particularly brutal with the feature race, The Fourstardave Handicap, not going off till 6:45, almost 6 hours after the first race. I had to vacate the premises before that race for obligations at home, and I wasn't the only one as a steady stream of patrons walked out with me.
Especially with the increase in betting at home via the computer, NYRA really has to quicken up these cards to keep attendance up. Yes I know Saratoga is a treasure but I can treasure it in 5 hours and don't need 6.
The food options have been great this year at the Track with the addition of Bettie's Cakes (pretty good), Poutines at Shirley's Restaurant (very good) and a Beer Garden near the Carousel.
My personal favorites remain the Shake Shack, the relocated Hattie's and the Paddock Bar (officially titled "The Bar at the Post"). This 3 year old bar is so popular its' hard to remember it not being there.
All in all, it's Saratoga so despite the long race days it's Saratoga.