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Pre-Race Hype Has Big Impact On 2012 Belmont Stakes Handle, Ratings

Despite the Triple Crown not being on the line in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, the race reported a record crowd, along with very high ratings and an impressive handle.

The crowd was listed as 85,811, which was a 53.8 increase from the previous season, according to Daily Racing Forum. It was the biggest crowd for a Belmont Stakes in which the Triple Crown was not on the line. That should come with a bit of an asterisk, though, as Triple Crown contender I'll Have Another wasn't pulled out of the race until the day before.

However, the ontrack handle for betting was $13.8 million, which was the second-highest all-time for the Belmont Stakes. The TV ratings for the final 45 minutes of NBC's broadcast reportedly was a 5.4, which was a 13 percent increase from last year. Overall, it appears the lure of I'll Have Another brought the fans, but they still stuck around after the horse was pulled from the race.

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with this StoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down the Stretch They Come. There, you'll also find a beginner's guide to following horse racing and a glossary of horse racing terms.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.