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Saratoga Generates Nearly $800M in Handle

The New York Racing Association announced Sept. 4 that the 40-day summer meet at Saratoga Race Course generated more than 1.1 million in paid attendance for the first time since 2018 and nearly $800 million in all-sources handle.

Despite one of the wettest summers in meet history, which forced an unprecedented 65 races off the turf, all-sources handle totaled $799,229,288 with paid attendance continuing its steady climb to 1,105,683. The handle was the third-largest in Saratoga’s history while this summer also marked the eighth consecutive season with attendance exceeding 1 million fans (excluding 2020 when fans were not permitted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.)

“Thanks to the fans who visited Saratoga Race Course over these 40 days, and all those who watched and wagered from home, the popularity of the summer meet continues to exceed all expectations,” said NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “The world-class racing held here each summer is made possible by the owners, trainers, jockeys, and backstretch community who collectively dedicate so much to the horses and the sport.

“At the same time, the continued success of Saratoga depends upon our ability to continuously enhance equine safety through science and technology,” added O’Rourke. “In the coming months, NYRA will make significant investments in PET scan imaging to identify pre-existing injuries; finalize the path forward regarding the adoption of synthetic surfaces at each venue; and expand the use of biometric wearable devices. Horses, fans, and the racing community deserve nothing less.” 

Throughout the 2023 summer meet, Saratoga and the surrounding communities appeared on the national stage more prominently than ever before thanks to an unprecedented broadcast partnership with FOX Sports. FOX and NYRA debuted a new programming series called FOX Saratoga Saturday which featured live national coverage for six consecutive Saturdays from Saratoga Race Course on FOX, beginning July 22 and culminating with the Travers Stakes (G1) Aug. 26.

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Prior to the start of the season, the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency released the findings of an independently commissioned study which attributed $371 million in economic activity and more than 2,900 jobs to the annual Saratoga summer meet. The report found that the overall economic impact generated by Saratoga Race Course has increased by 57% since the previous study conducted in 2014.

Saratoga by the Numbers (2023 vs. 2022)

Inclement weather forced 65 races off the turf, compared to 16 in 2022, which largely accounted for the 9% decline in all-sources handle when compared to the record-setting wagering in 2022. 

Average daily paid attendance surged past 27,000 for the first time since 2019 to finish at 27,642.

  • Total paid attendance: 1,105,683 vs. 1,075,586 (+2.8%)
  • Average daily paid attendance: 27,642
  • Races off the turf: 65 vs. 16 (+306%) 
  • Races canceled due to weather (8/4/2023): 4
  • All-sources handle: $799,229,288 vs. $878,211,963 (-9.0%)
  • Average daily handle: $19,980,732
  • Total on-track handle: $142,918,763 vs. $152,274,728 (-6.1%)
  • Total races: 410 (270 dirt and 140 turf) vs. 417 (218 dirt and 199 turf)
  • Average field size: 7.64 vs. 7.76 (-1.6%)
  • Number of timed workouts since Saratoga opened for training in April: 10,738

2023 Summer Meet Highlights

Live racing resumes Sept. 14 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet which runs through Oct. 29. The 28-day meet offers a total of 44 stakes worth $9.275 million in total purses. The Belmont at the Big A fall meet will include four grade 1 events and six Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: “Win and You’re In” qualifiers.

For additional information, visit

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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