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WDC Handles Smash Previous Records

Bettors made history, as wagering totals on the 2017 World Driving Championship, presented by Standardbred Canada, far exceeded expectations and broke a number of longstanding betting records.

In total, $2,769,194 was bet over the five full WDC racing cards held at Century Downs, Mohawk Racetrack, Georgian Downs, Hippodrome 3R and Red Shores Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park, between August 12 and 18, 2017.

Breaking down the total, $1,988,355 was bet on the full cards throughout North America, plus $515,926 wagered in Australia, and $264,913 in New Zealand.

“We set out to use the WDC to get Canada’s tracks out into the international market and our many great partners, including the tracks, Woodbine Entertainment, Trackmaster, and a number of global contacts, helped make that happen,” said Darryl Kaplan, Standardbred Canada’s manager of Industry Communications. “Four of the five tracks hosting WDC races had never been simulcast outside of North America, so it was a very important goal for us.

“What we found was a significant appetite for the Canadian product, and as a result, wagering figures were well above expectation,” said Kaplan. “We were originally told that Sky Racing 1 in Australia would not simulcast any harness racing on Saturday mornings (local time), but they made a rare exception, and more than $200,000 was bet in Australia and New Zealand on the final WDC leg from Charlottetown, alone.

“At the World Trotting Conference, this success was hailed as a very clear indication that when countries work together, and produce products that appeal to an international market, the opportunities are limitless, even for our smaller tracks. This was something that all of us can build upon,” said Kaplan.

A group shot of the 2017 World Driving Championship reinsmen (Photo courtesy Sylvain Gagnon)

The following is the leg by leg breakdown of WDC wagering.

In leg one, at Century Downs, $200,553 was wagered globally on the 10-race program. It was the highest handle ever recorded at Century Downs on a single card of racing. The previous highest handle generated on racing at Century Downs was $144,854 on July 1, 2016.

Of that total, $105,868 was wagered throughout North America, representing a 47% increase over the week previous. When you add in the $56,164 bet in Australia and the $38,521 in New Zealand for the five races they carried, the total handle nearly doubled.

Leg two at Mohawk saw a total wagering tally of $1,725,252. The North American portion of the handle was $1,504,849, representing a 21% increase over the handle the previous Monday night. It also marked the highest weekday handle (Monday to Thursday) at Mohawk during the month of August. In Australia, $159,540 was bet on the Mohawk card, while New Zealand handled $60,863 over the six races taken in that country.

Leg three moved to Georgian Downs where total handle was $289,167. The amount bet throughout North America was $134,381, which was a 69% increase over the total Georgian Downs handle from the previous week. The additional betting from Australia ($110,137) and New Zealand ($44,649 for five races) represented total international wagering of $154,786, which actually exceeded the North American handle, on its own.

The program was the highest Georgian Downs single card handle since Xtreme Horsepower, on August 9, 2008, when $313,457 was bet.

The fourth WDC leg took place at Hippodrome 3R, where a shortened eight-race program saw a total handle of $163,188. That figure included $69,693 from Australia (6 races), and $35,611 from New Zealand (4 races). Overall the eight race card had a per race handle of $20,399. That was the highest average per race handle at Hippodrome 3R since December 28, 1999.

The fifth and final leg at Red Shores Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park, in Prince Edward Island, saw a massive total handle of $391,031. That represented a record for most money wagered in the history of Atlantic Canada on a single card of racing.

The card, which took place the Friday night before the Gold Cup & Saucer, saw a North American handle alone of $185,373, which was the highest ever for a non-Gold Cup & Saucer night. It was also a 115% increase over the same evening card held the previous year.

With $205,661 bet internationally ($120,392 from Australia and $85,269 from New Zealand), the handle easily broke all records.

In Australia and New Zealand, World Driving Championship wagering was done into separate betting pools and via fixed odds wagering. To facilitate familiarity in the product overseas, Sky Racing’s Greg Hayes was part of the broadcast team for all five legs.

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