Handle, Purses, Race Days Decline in May

Pari-mutuel handle, purses, and race days all declined in May compared with the same month in 2008, according to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released June 4.

Year-to-date in 2009, handle, which includes worldwide commingled wagering on races in the United States, is down 9.22% through May compared with the same period last year. The numbers have been fairly consistent the first five months of this year, according to the Equibase data.

In May, handle totaled $1,375,229,442, down 8.26% from $1,499,103,122 in May 2008. Purses totaled $105,106,967, down 6.73% from $112,695,212. The number of U.S. race days—individual racing programs at all tracks—was 598, down 4.93% from 629 last year.

For the first five months of 2009, handle totaled $5,510,415,896, down from $6,069,837,619 from January through May 2008. Purses totaled $403,346,939, down 5.54% from $427,010,362. There were 2,194 race days, down 0.99% from 2,216.

The May figures include the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) program, which traditionally produces the highest one-day handle figure in U.S. racing. All-sources handle of $155,969,770 was down 5.3% from 2008.

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