Preakness Betting Up

Monday, May 18, 2009; 6:52 AM

Nationwide betting on the Preakness Stakes was up this past weekend despite lower attendance at the classic horse race at Pimlico Race Course, officials said yesterday.

More than $59 million was bet, compared with $45 million last year, said John B. Franzone, head of the Maryland Racing Commission. A ban on spectators bringing their own beverages into the infield helped cut attendance by 30 percent, to 77,850.

State racing officials said the amount brought in through betting indicates that this year's race was a financial success for the state. Franzone said race enthusiasts were excited about watching the favored winner, Rachel Alexandra, a filly, compete against Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

"Attendance is important to the racetrack," Franzone said. "But as with the whole industry, what drives the industry is the handle," the amount brought in by betting.

-- Keith L. Alexander

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