The average handle at Emerald Downs was down from last year, as expected, but the numbers were up from the 2019, a more comparable season.

Total handle for 2021 at the Auburn racetrack was $65,147,348.75 for the 49-day meet, which concluded Sunday. The average daily handle was $1,329,537.73, down 26% from last year.

The racetrack set a record for average daily handle last season when races — without fans — were held on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Those are two light nights of racing nationally, which helped significantly boost simulcast wagering across the country at Emerald Downs.

With the return of fans and weekend racing — and much more competition from other racetracks — this season, the numbers predictably fell. But the average daily handle was up 19% from 2019, when fans were also present.

The average handle per race was up 14% over 2019 and down 10.5% from last year.  

Emerald Downs president Phil Ziegler deemed the racing season a success last week.

“We are pretty pleased with the way the whole meet went,” Ziegler said. “Our No. 1 priority this year was welcoming fans back.”