Maryland Million reports largest betting handle in more than a decade

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Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado aboard Maryland Million Classic winner Saratoga Bob. Photo courtesy of the Maryland Jockey Club.

Last Saturday’s Maryland Million, a day of stakes races at Laurel Park featuring the progeny of in-state stallions, saw a 30 percent increase in wagering, and for the first time since 2007, the overall betting handle surpassed $5 million, the Maryland Jockey Club announced.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Maryland Jockey Club president and general manager Sal Sinatra said in a statement. “The weather was great, the racing was great, and field size was up.”

That’s the second time this year the Maryland Jockey Club has broken records with one of its marquee events. Earlier this year, the betting handle on the Preakness Stakes reached a new high of $61.97 million, according to the industry publication Daily Racing Form. Including the races on the undercard, the total handle was $93.655 million, a slight decline from the record mark set in 2017, The Sun reported just after the race.

An estimated crowd of 22,000 turned up for the 12-race card on Saturday at Laurel and was treated to new renovations, including a sportsbook with a wall of TVs–no doubt an appeal to regulators, should the state ever legalize gambling on other sports.

And for the first time in the event’s history, there was a large-scale concert, featuring DJ Steve Aoki and rapper Tyga, akin to the massive Infield Fest at the Preakness. A spokesperson for the Maryland Jockey Club said the music festival drew approximately 4,000 attendees.

Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of The Stronach Group, which owns both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course here in Baltimore, said the improvements and the concert were signs of the company’s commitment to racing.

“We believe in this sport,” she said in a statement. “This is the last great sporting legacy platform that has yet to evolve and modernize. We’re looking at the guest experience of what we can do to enhance that.”

As has been reported in industry publications and The Sun, Stronach is currently locked in a legal battle with her father, Frank, the father of the racing operation, over the management of company funds.

Brandon Weigel

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