American Pharoah's historic victory at Saturday's Belmont Stakes, marking the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, was a record-breaker for the cash-starved Nassau Off-Track Betting Corp., which garnered its highest betting handle ever for the Belmont, agency officials said Tuesday.
Nassau OTB chairman Joe Cairo said $3.17 million was wagered at its 25 betting locations, and through phone, email and mobile devices, eclipsing the previous record of $3.07 million in 2004, when Smarty Jones ran for the Triple Crown but was upset by Birdstone.
In 2013, $3.05 million was wagered as California Chrome missed on his Triple Crown attempt.
"To know that our locations allowed people to witness history is a monumental achievement of which we are proud to be a part," Cairo said.
Nassau OTB has struggled with declining revenue and diminished interest in horse racing in recent years. In March, OTB offered early retirement incentives to 86 of its 220 employees but only a dozen workers took the deal.
Cairo is now considering layoffs and closing some OTB branches to reduce costs as their leases come up for renewal this year.
The moves come after Nassau OTB dropped plans to put VLTs at the vacant Fortunoff building in Westbury after vocal community opposition. Cairo said he continues to look for a new site for the VLTs, and multiple sources said the focus remains on Belmont Park.