Empire Maker's victory over the weekend at the prestigious Belmont Stakes was quite a feat, but he wasn't the only big winner over the weekend.
The hype of Funny Cide's historic bid for the first Triple Crown in 25 years helped propel record betting handle throughout the pari-mutual ranks and was the force behind numerous records being for leading online race betting service Youbet.com
Officials with Youbet.com announced today that total handle on the site for Saturday's race was $2.1 million. That amount reflects a nearly 100 percent increase from the 2002 race and was the second largest handle for a single race in the site's history.
For the week leading up to the Belmont Stakes, handle exceeded $6.6 million, an increase of nearly 80 perfect over the same period last year and the second highest weekly handle in the company's history (trailing only the weekly handle generated during the Kentucky Derby earlier this year).
In addition to the high amount of handle generated on both race day, and the days leading up to the race, Youbet saw robust usage of its system on Saturday. There were 7,371 unique Youbet bettors logged on to the system on race day and the average wager was roughly 40 percent higher than wagers placed during the Belmont in 2002.
The Belmont action capped off a remarkable Triple Crown run for the California-based company. The site's combined handle for the three race weeks reached $19.7 million, up nearly $9 million from 2002 (nearly an 84 percent increase). The combined handle for the three race days nearly doubled, climbing from 3.1 million in 2002 to $6.6 million this year.
Charles F. Champion, president and CEO of Youbet, said the positive results from the Triple Crown events is proof that the company's business strategy is successful.
"We continue to prove the reliability and capability of the Youbet system," he said. "We have also proven our ability to increase the average handle per fan. This is not only a benefit to Youbet, but to the entire racing industry."
Youbet wasn't the only entity that was able to take advantage of the buzz created with Funny Cide's near-record performance.
Officials at Belmont Part were hoping for a record crowd or more than 120,000 at the track for the race, but constant rain on Friday and Saturday meant that a little more than 100,000 were in attendance. Still, on-track handle reached $13.1 million, while overall handle for the race was $48.8 million. That figured marked the second highest total handle in race history, despite a field of only six horses. The handle was the most for any race in North America with only six horses in the field.
The race was a big hit with non-bettors as well. NBC, which telecast the race in the United States, saw a 13 percent increase in its overnight rating from the telecast. The network drew a 10.4 rating, up from 9.2 for the 2002 race. Not only was the telecast an increase from the 2002 event, the 10.4 rating was the best rating for a horse race since 1990.
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