After benefitting from fabulous weather the last three years, the New York Racing Association has felt the wrath of Mother Nature this summer at Saratoga.
All-sources handle through the first 22 days of the 40-day meet was $333,965,894, down 9.1 percent from last year’s figure of $367,492,480 through the same period of 2017, according to figures provided by the NYRA.
Ontrack handle was $77,408,190, down 10.1 percent from last year’s figure of $86,146,767. There have been 218 races run so far this meet, 75 on turf, compared to 221 (108 on turf) through the first 22 days of last year’s meet.
New York Racing Association officials said that 7.30 inches of rain has fallen in Saratoga since the meet began on July 20. That rain has forced management to move 36 races scheduled for the turf to the dirt. That doesn’t include management’s decision to cancel the final two races scheduled on the Aug. 4 Whitney Day card.
In 2017, there were only 27 turf races lost to weather for the entire meet. In 2016, that number was 25, and in 2015 only eight races were washed off the turf for the entire meet.
Since turf races tend to draw more horses than dirt races, field size has taken a big hit this summer. Average field size for the first 22 days is 7.50 horses per race compared to 8.29 through this point last year. Average field size on turf is 8.93, down from 9.18 last year. Average field size on dirt is 6.97, down from 7.43 in 2017.
Despite the loss of 36 turf races, trainer Chad Brown – whose barn is filled with high-class turf horses – has dominated the proceedings with 25 wins, 11 more than Todd Pletcher.
Irad Ortiz Jr. leads all jockeys with 29 wins, followed by Javier Castellano (24) and Luis Saez (23).
Seth Klarman has 12 wins at the meet, to lead all owners. He has seven under the Klaravich Stables banner and five with William Lawrence.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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