Yonkers, NY --- For the first time since the abrupt closing of the New York City Off Track Betting Corporation in December of last year, the handle at Yonkers Raceway has achieved the seven-figure mark.
On Saturday evening, March 26, the Yonkers handle was $1,014,528. While million dollar-plus handle figures had been a quite normal occurrence at Yonkers during 2010, overall wagering dropped precipitously in the several weeks after NYC OTB not only closed its doors, but also relinquished its television channel.
While some believe that marketing the sport, a management role, should become solely the responsibility of the horsemen, track management at Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association worked cooperatively to fill the void. As a result, Yonkers was able to restore its signal to the NYC television airways in February and, though long overdue and previously prevented by the NYS Racing and Wagering Board, was finally able to display live video streaming of Yonkers races on its website.
Joe Faraldo, President of the SOA of NY said, "While the economic contribution to these efforts is a quite expensive one, in excess of $2 million, the alternative of losing that presence in the marketplace was an unacceptable alternative for the industry in NY. Yonkers GM Bob Galterio, his staff, and members of the Rooney family, worked with the SOA of NY's executive team for over a month to bring these changes about. As a result, Yonkers and the SOA of NY jointly own rights in this market."
These steps are in part responsible for a steady handle increase over the course of the last several weeks.
Handle increase is also attributed to the obvious: top horses, trainers and drivers. The Sagamore Hill, Petticoat and George Morton Levy series, the latter a tribute to the legendary Roosevelt Raceway President, have attracted some of the best pacers in the country. Additionally, our driving colony has been enhanced with the likes of Yannick Gingras; the "White Knight" Brian Sears; and the "Purple Jesus" David Miller. They join the "Minister of Speed" George Brennan; Jason Bartlett; Jim Pantaleano; Jeff Gregory; Daniel Dube; Jordan Stratton; Patrick Lachance; Stephane Bouchard; Cat Manzi; Brent Holland; Eric Goodell and many more, giving Yonkers the irrefutable distinction of harboring the deepest driving colony in America. Yonkers arguably has the best horses competing in the US today and remains the toughest place to win a race.
Innovation, old fashioned hard work and a joint economic commitment to the product, before consideration of the bottom line, are the elements necessary to halt the decline of our sport. Yonkers doesn't believe in a mind set of gloom and doom; and the diligent work at the Hilltop Oval is beginning to pay off.