Bettors proved they could handle the magic of Saratoga’s racing season without being at Saratoga, passing the $700 million mark in all-sources handle for the second consecutive year.

Tiz the Law-Travers-Saratoga Wrap
Only a handful of essential personnel watched a geared-down Tiz the Law win the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 8, but despite the COVID-19 pandemic keeping fans away from the Spa, Saratoga’s handle surpassed $700 million for the second consecutive year. (Image: AP)

The numbers for the 40-day 2020 Saratoga meet remained surprisingly strong, despite the lack of fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Saratoga chalked up $702,535,468 in all-sources handle. That’s a slight, 3.9% dip from 2019’s all-sources handle of $705,343,949.

Average daily handle came in at $17,563,387, a 2.8% dip from 2019’s $18,085,742. Last year’s meet ran one fewer day (39) due to a weather cancellation. Amid all that, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) managed six more races (409) this year, and a comparable average field size (7.4). Last year’s meet featured 403 races and average field sizes of 7.9 horses.

Tiz the Law’s Travers Romp Built Saratoga’s 2020 Handle

This year’s handle received a strong boost from Tiz the Law’s lights-out performance in one of the meet’s feature races – the Grade 1 Travers Stakes. Strong fields in other Grade 1 events, most notably the Whitney, the Woodward, the Personal Ensign, and the Jerkens Memorial padded the handle accordingly.

“While the 2020 Saratoga meet was a success in many ways, it will most be remembered for the absence of our passionate fans and the irreplaceable energy that they bring to Saratoga every summer,” NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement. “Despite not being able to attend in person, horseplayers watched and wagered with tremendous enthusiasm.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. accounted for plenty of betting enthusiasm. Saddling 32 winners, Pletcher won the H. Allen Jerkens Training Title for the 14th time. Ortiz nipped his brother Jose, 59-58, to claim the Angel Cordero Jr. riding title. Considered two of the country’s best jockeys, the brothers passed up Kentucky Derby/Oaks mounts to take the riding title down to the final day. The Ortiz brothers combined to win 28.6% of Saratoga’s races this season.

Gift Cards For Betting? Who Knew?

Aside from donating more than $33,000 to Saratoga Springs-area charities, NYRA introduced a new wagering method on its NYRA Bets advance deposit wagering (ADW) platform. Partnering with a local retailer, NYRA Bets sold more than 12,000 NYRA Bets Gift Cards for horseplayers to use on their ADWs.

Now, NYRA turns to Belmont Park for its 27-day fall meet. That begins Friday, Sept. 18, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 1.