The major contributor missing from the total handle is the Cheval Francais Le Trot online handle, which last year was in excess of $387,000. Therefore, Hambletonian Day 2015 could be the first raced in heat-format to surpass the $8 Million handle plateau.
Overseas, the Hambletonian Day program was especially popular in Sweden, where wagering was up nearly 40-percent. However, because the value of the Swedish Krona has fallen substantially over the past year, despite the large increase, the handle actually translates to less handle in terms of U.S. Dollars. But the signal was extremely well received.
The on-track handle showed slight gains with live handle being $1,320,325 compared to $1,280,854 last year. This marked the first time since 2005 that the on-track handle showed a year-over-year increase.
While history shows that handle is higher on Hambletonian Days where there are not multiple heats, the storyline of Pinkman vs. Mission Brief proved compelling this year and gave an added jolt to what was a spectacular day of racing. With races like the Cane Pace, U.S. Pacing Championship and John Cashman Memorial as supporting features and a European spark from D’One in The Fresh Yankee, this year’s Hambletonian Day program certainly had a flare for the dramatic and it continues to show why Hambletonian Day is the greatest day in the sport of harness racing.
“I was extremely pleased with the racing product we put forth on Hambletonian Day,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. “That is what The Meadowlands is all about. While we all know that handle performs better when there is just a Hambletonian Final, like last year, I thought the Mission Brief/Pinkman story-line created a real buzz around the track, especially considering Yannick Gingras had to make a choice between the two.
That kind of excitement can get people interested in our sport. Also, to see the foreign handle figures are likely to push the handle past $8 Million, making this the highest-handling heat format Hambletonian Day ever, is extremely gratifying. The team at The Meadowlands did a great job of getting the program page for the Hambletonian Final distributed quickly and effectively to both our on-track customers and those betting off-site. We are proud to host the greatest day in harness racing and look for more great things on Hambletonian Day 2016.”