Racing took full advantage of a five-weekend month of July but the gains in pari-mutuel handle and purses appear to go beyond kindness of the calendar.
Indiana Grand Racing & Casino established pari-mutuel handle and attendance records July 16, when it offered a 10-race program featuring the $500,000 Indiana Derby (gr. II).
Del Mar's opening day July 15, on a Friday for the first time since the 1970s, saw an increase in attendance and all-sources handle, but a decrease in on-track handle.
For a second straight year Churchill Downs registered an increase in total pari-mutuel handle for its 38-day spring meet.
With June's biggest race day seeing a significant decline in pari-mutuel handle, wagering on United States races for the month also declined compared with the same month in 2015.
Total handle July 2 on Gulfstream Park's Summit of Speed program was $9.702 million, an increase of 18% from 2015 when Gulfstream first played host to the event.
Total and average handle on Gulfstream Park's live races was up during the 59-day spring meet, which concluded June 30.
The Maryland Jockey Club announced June 29 that daily handle was up nearly 22% from the previous year during the recently concluded Preakness Meet at Pimlico Race Course.
Preakness day registered record handle but with the Kentucky Derby day handle down slightly from last year's record mark, wagering on U.S. races in the month of May fell 3.95% when compared with the same month last year.
The Maryland Jockey Club reported record attendance and an increase in handle for the May 20 card at Pimlico Race Course, highlighted by Go Maggie Go’s impressive Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) score.
A crowd of 167,227 attended the Kentucky Derby May 7. The all-sources handle for the day was $192.6 million.
All-sources handle for Kentucky Oaks day rose 6% to $49 million.
Total number of races and starts also increase.
Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course recently concluded its winter-spring meet and showed a 31% rise in daily average handle for the 65-day stand.
Oaklawn Park concluded the 2016 live racing season April 16 with across-the-board increases in handle, attendance, average field size, and Oaklawn Anywhere (the tracks advance-deposit wagering site) business.
Santa Anita Park saw a significant increase in on-track attendance and a slight decrease in all-sources handle when its 2015-2016 winter meet came to a close April 10.
Despite fewer races and race days, commingled wagering on U.S. racing rose nominally during the month of March, according to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released by Equibase April 5.
According to a wagering expert, the industry's embrace of computer-robotic wagering through the high rebates required to sustain these players has resulted in a less attractive game for all other horseplayers.
Despite declines in race days and number of races during January, wagering on U.S. racing rose 2.2% to $830,526,891 when compared with the $812,581,024 total handle during January 2015.
Gulfstream Park announced Jan. 1 that its live races in 2015 produced a record $1.338 billion in handle. Gulfstream's record handle represented a 14% increase from its previous record handle of $1.174 billion in 2014.
Officials at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races report the track enjoyed record handle per race of $111,664 for its 1,447 races in 2015.
Golden Gate Fields experienced a 3.08% year-over-year increase in total all-sources handle in 2015 despite racing three fewer days.
With one more month remaining in 2015, pari-mutuel wagering on U.S. races is up less than a percentage point compared with the first 11 months of 2014 but purses are down 1.68%.
The Toronto racetrack reported an 11.3% rise in total handle; set records on its three biggest days.
At the conclusion of its second fall season since the closure of Hollywood Park, Del Mar saw a decrease in daily average handle for the five-week stand when compared with last fall's four-week slate.
Breeders' Cup reported a record Friday crowd for the first day of its World Championships Oct. 30 at Keeneland and a slight drop in total pari-mutuel handle compared with 2014.
Hopes for a spike in pari-mutuel handle at Keeneland this fall in advance of this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships did not materialize.
The 30th edition of the Jim McKay Maryland Million Oct. 17 at Laurel Park generated an increase in handle of 34.9% and an increase in attendance of 5.6%, compared with last year's event.
Growth in export market wagering on the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe card illustrates the importance of expanding wagering agreements worldwide, Louis Romanet said during his closing remarks at the IFHA annual conference.
A strong September in terms of handle on U.S. races has helped wagering figures through the first three quarters of 2015 stay in the black.
Mike Maker, who scored in three consecutive races Sept. 19, was named top trainer of the 2015 Kentucky Downs meet while jockey Florent Geroux was the leading rider with 12 victories for the five-day season.
Citing higher than anticipated handle on its Aug. 15 Arlington Million card and following days, Arlington International Racecourse announced it will card additional races daily and increase purses for state-bred races.
The New York Racing Association reported record handle of $648,272,805 for its 2015 Saratoga Race Course meet that concluded Sept. 7, reflecting a 13.5% increase in all-source wagering activity compared with 2014.
Del Mar raced to a close of its 76th summer season on Labor Day, completing a 40-day meet that saw total handle figures rise by nearly 10% thanks to four additional race days.
Perhaps helped a bit by added attention for horse racing following American Pharoah's Triple Crown sweep, wagering on U.S. races improved 1.41% in July to $903,673,455 when compared with July 2014.
For the first 10 days of Saratoga, on-track handle on NYRA races is up 19% and total handle is up 18.3% over 2014 figures. Field size is also up 9.2% over last year.
A paid crowd of 34,783 attended opening day of Saratoga Race Course's 2015 summer meet July 24, which featured a total all-sources handle of $17,706,202.
Despite rainy weather, Lone Star Park registered increased attendance and total on-track wagering at its spring Thoroughbred meet, although all-sources handle declined 3.1% to $67.6 million.
Los Alamitos Race Course's second two-week Summer Thoroughbred Festival saw an increase in all-sources handle and an uptick in wagering on live races from last year's numbers.
The on-track handle of $541,636.30 was up over 2014 ($531,609.10) and the combined total handle was $5,392,680.04 compared to $4,580,023.87 one year ago.
Santa Anita Park reached $1 billion in pari-mutuel handle June 20, a total that dates back to the beginning of its winter meet Dec. 26.
In its fiscal year financials filed June 17, parent company Betfair reported a strong year for its U.S. advance deposit wagering operation and racing channel, TVG.
The Maryland Jockey Club announced June 8 that Pimlico Race Course's 37-day spring meet ended June 6 with sharp increases over last year in total and average pari-mutuel handle.
- By Frank Angst
- Thoroughbred Racing, Handicapping, Triple Crown, Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky, Mid-Atlantic Region
With pari-mutuel wagering up for the Kentucky Oaks day card, the Kentucky Derby day card, and the Preakness day card, racing enjoyed a 4.82% increase in wagering in the all-important month of May.
The Maryland Jockey Club announced that total handle for Black-Eyed Susan Day May 15 was $18.5 million, the highest total handle for the card in 10 years and topping last year's handle of $11.3 million by 63%.
Wagering from all sources on both the full 12-race Kentucky Oaks Day card and Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) alone was the highest all-time.
Key U.S. racing economic indicators fell in March, according to an April 4 report from Equibase Co., as inclement weather led to numerous cancellations during the month.
Total handle for the recently concluded 32-day Thoroughbred meet at Sam Houston Race Park increased more than 15% to $51,258,598 in 2015 compared with the 2014 meet, as average daily handle improved a fourth straight year.
After an encouraging start in terms of pari-mutuel wagering in January, handle on U.S. races plummeted in February compared with the same month in 2014, a decline that dropped 2015's handle behind last year's pace
In a jump that could be related to larger average field sizes, pari-mutuel handle improved 1.52% in January compared with the same month last year, according to Thoroughbred racing economic indicators released by Equibase.
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