How you judge the results of Monmouth Park’s Haskell Day depends on which numbers you look at.
If you’re Good Magic, the heavy favorite and winner of the Haskell Invitational sponsored by Betfair, then $1 million — the race purse — was the number of the day and a good one, at that.
However, if you’re Dennis Drazin, the CEO of the company who operates Monmouth Park, then the nearly $2 million bet at the track that day was a downer, representing a roughly 11-percent decline in handle compared to 2017.
Two different handle stats tell two different stories
In his conversation with App.com, Drazin said part of the reason on-track handle was down may be due to the fact that Good Magic was such a heavy favorite.
“`You’re never really happy when you’re down from the previous year,” Drazin said. “The betting numbers (were) good. They were strong and healthy. But they were a tick down. But, Good Magic was a heavy favorite, so maybe that accounts for some of the betting. But overall a good day betting.”
Another factor in the lower handle this year may have been the collective letdown of finding out that Triple Crown winner Justify, who many were hoping would race, retired a week before the Haskell.
However, not every bet placed on the day’s races were placed by people who were physically at the track, and that’s where the good news comes in.
According to a press release from Monmouth Park, on- and off-track betting totaled more than $13.39 million, representing a five-percent increase compared to 2017.
Drazin considers Haskell 2018 a win
Other good news: Attendance also saw a five-percent increase over the previous year.
So, while the on-track handle was lower than the previous year, Drazin was pleased with the overall results of race day, he told App.com.
“I think overall, everything went great. I was pleased with the operation and the race, and the weather even cooperated. I think even though going into the race there was that disappointment that we didn’t have the Triple Crown winner, for a while there Good Magic made you forget about the past season and look forward to the upcoming season. It gives you something to root for.”
Good Magic didn’t disappoint
As for the final race of the day, Good Magic lived up to the hype that came with being a runner-up at the Kentucky Derby and the fourth-place finisher at The Preakness.
He won his race by three lengths, a victory that jockey Jose Ortiz said came pretty easily for the thoroughbred.
“When I asked him to run I pushed the button and he was there for me,” Ortiz said in the Monmouth Park press release. “It was a really easy trip. He made it easy for me.”
It wasn’t a bad day for Ortiz, either. He won four stakes races on the day.