Final Breeders' Cup Handle Figures Down 2.4%
Photo: Dave Harmon

The Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 17 released final handle figures from this year’s World Championships, showing a 2.4% decline in all-sources wagering during the Oct. 30-31 event at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington.

The 2015 figure of $155.5 million, down from $159.4 million in 2014, was in part because no World  Championsips pari-mutuel wagering in Hong Kong took place this year, according to Breeders’ Cup. Common-pool wagering on the Oct. 31, 12-race Breeders' Cup card was $105,625,491, a slight decrease (.3%) from the 2014 handle of $105,979,062. The on-track handle for the two days at Keeneland was $20,663,054, up 2.5% over the $20,117,488 2014 on-track handle at Santa Anita Park.

The 2015 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge was the largest to date, with a record $4,225,000 in contest wagers by the record 322 players at Keeneland and the satellite locations of Belmont Park, Del Mar, Gulfstream Park, and Santa Anita. A total of $3,096,223 million was wagered by 222 tournament players at Keeneland, which comprised 15% of the on-track handle over the two days of the Championships.

“The 2015 Breeders’ Cup proved to be a resounding success in so many ways, but it starts with the remarkable work from the management and staff at Keeneland, whose attention to detail and superb execution created a spectacular racing event for all,” said Breeders’ Cup president Craig Fravel. “We also thank the Lexington business community and to the Breeders’ Cup Festival for their dedication and commitment in support of the worldwide guests attending the championships.”

In addition to the popularity of the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, ratings for NBC’s live broadcast of the Classic (gr. I) victory by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah   were the highest for a Breeders’ Cup since Cigar’s 1995 Classic at Belmont Park. The one-hour Classic window (5-6 p.m. ET) earned a 2.6/6 household rating, up 53% from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic hour (1.7/3) which was run in primetime.

The average starters per race this year increased to 12.4 over 12.2 from the 2014 event, with two late defections from the Classic. Seven of the races had full fields of 14. With the expansion of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge racing program to 78 races in 13 countries this year, 39 Challenge winners competed in the World Championships, with six winning their respective divisions and 25 earning first through fifth-place purse money.

“This year’s World Championships ranks at the highest level of international competition,” Fravel added. “We salute the owners, trainers and jockeys who participated and attended to the extraordinarily talented horses that ran in this year’s World Championships.”

The two-day total attendance of 95,102 was a slight decrease over the prior year at Santa Anita. (Total reported attendance at Keeneland included tickets sold as well as credentials issued.)

Breeders’ Cup social media platforms experienced triple-digit growth year-over-year, with Breeders’ Cup official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram audience reach the week of the event growing 148%, 150% and 420%, respectively. The official Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com, also made gains over the prior year with a 23% increase in unique visitors and a 13% increase in visitor sessions over 2014 during Breeders’ Cup week (Oct 26-Nov.1).

A record 52 corporate partners supported the World Championships at Keeneland in 2015.

The 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held on Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday,  Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

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