Handle Improves During 2017 Classic Season

Handle Improves During 2017 Classic Season
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club/Jon Kral
Bettors on Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course

In terms of handle, United States horse racing enjoyed a steady second quarter, an especially important timeframe because it includes the three Triple Crown races.

According to Thoroughbred racing economic indicators released June 6 by Equibase, wagering on U.S. races for the months April-June reached $3,083,467,410, up 1.2% compared with the same three months last year. That improvement occurred despite a 4.5% reduction in the number of races to 10,311 for the quarter.

Two of the three classic hosts reported record wagering on their biggest race days. Churchill Downs noted a 12% increase in its Kentucky Derby Day handle, compared with last year, to a record $139.2 million. Maryland Jockey Club officials said Preakness Day handle improved 14% compared with last year to $97,168,658, also a record.

While the New York Racing Association reported a 5.7% decline in Belmont Day handle to $93.7 million, it noted that wagering on its three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival improved 1.6% to $124.7 million.

While second-quarter wagering was up slightly despite fewer races and race days (down 4.9% to 1,264), purses declined 3.2% to $284,021,392.

In reducing its dates and races, the industry appears to be finding its level. Average wagering per race day improved 6.4% to $2,439,452 in the second quarter and average purses per race day improved 1.8% to $224,700. 

The improved second-quarter handle brought the year-to-date handle into the black. Wagering for the first six months on U.S. races is up 0.2% to $5,556,350,090. Purses for the year are up 1.2% to $496,699,115, benefiting from the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), which had its purses fueled by 12, $1 million buy-ins from owners and other stakeholders.

 

Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators

For June / 2nd Quarter 2017

 

 

June 2017 vs. June 2016

 

Indicator

June 2017

June 2016

% Change

Wagering on U.S. Races*

$932,595,475

$897,393,962

+3.92%

U.S. Purses

$98,631,707

$102,584,696

-3.85%

U.S. Race Days

488

502

-2.79%

U.S. Races

3,866

3,986

-3.01%

U.S. Starts

28,586

29,528

-3.19%

Average Field Size

7.39

7.41

-0.19%

Average Wagering Per Race Day

$1,911,056

$1,787,637

+6.90%

Average Purses Per Race Day

$202,114

$204,352

-1.10%

 

 

2nd QTR 2017 vs. 2nd QTR 2016

 

Indicator

2nd QTR 2017

2nd QTR 2016

% Change

Wagering on U.S. Races*

$3,083,467,410

$3,045,612,027

+1.24%

U.S. Purses

$284,021,392

$293,364,061

-3.18%

U.S. Race Days

1,264

1,329

-4.89%

U.S. Races

10,311

10,797

-4.50%

U.S. Starts

76,937

81,199

-5.25%

Average Field Size

7.46

7.52

-0.78%

Average Wagering Per Race Day

$2,439,452

$2,291,657

+6.45%

Average Purses Per Race Day

$224,700

$220,740

+1.79%

 

 

YTD 2017 vs. YTD 2016

 

Indicator

YTD 2017

YTD 2016

% Change

Wagering on U.S. Races*

$5,556,350,090

$5,544,421,914

+0.22%

U.S. Purses

$496,699,115

$490,712,320

+1.22%

U.S. Race Days

2,143

2,176

-1.52%

U.S. Races

17,861

18,079

-1.21%

U.S. Starts

136,198

140,827

-3.29%

Average Field Size

7.63

7.79

-2.11%

Average Wagering Per Race Day

$2,592,791

$2,547,988

+1.76%

Average Purses Per Race Day

$231,777

$225,511

+2.78%

 

* Includes worldwide commingled wagering on U.S. races.

Most Popular Stories