The Nov. 6-7 Breeders' Cup World Championships during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet provided a major shot in the arm for November purses, which were up 24.9% over the same month a year ago when the Breeders' Cup was held in October.
Attendance for the two-day event increased 11%, while the overall handle slipped 7% largely because two less races were run compared with 2008. On-track handle grew 3% compared with a year ago.
Breeders' Cup announced that the first of the two days of this year's World Championships, Nov. 6 at Santa Anita, showed an increase in attendance and handle.
The 2009 Belmont Park Fall Championship meet, permeated by inclement weather and races washed off the turf, saw declines in handle and attendance figures.
A rainy October in Kentucky led to much lower on-track business for the Keeneland fall meet, but good racing at the track helped the simulcast wagering, and the combined off-track and on-track betting increased.
Wagering on Thoroughbred races in the United States was only down less than 1% in September, but for the year still lags 2008 by more than $1 billion.
- By Tom LaMarra
Pari-mutuel handle on United States racing continued its decline in August despite the country's two premier summer meets at Del Mar and Saratoga.
Attendance and handle turned down fractionally for the first time during the 2009 Saratoga Race Course meet after two inches of rain Aug. 28 and 29 lowered attendance on Shadwell Travers (gr. I) Day and forced seven of the weekend's 11 carded turf races off the turf. Attendance was down 1.6%, on-track handle down 1.6%, and all-sources handle down 2.8% from 2008 totals through week five.
All-sources handle for the recently-concluded 64-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet decreased 13.9% from 2008 totals, in contrast with industry-wide decreases of 16.9% in June, and 10.5% through the first six months of 2009 compared to 2008 figures. Incessant rain throughout the meet resulted in 77 races taken off the turf and many more turf races which could not be carded.
On-track and all-sources handle were up significantly over 2008 totals as Saratoga Race Course opened its 141st season July 29.
Del Mar officials announced that figures for the Southern California track's first week of its summer meet was up in both on-track attendance and on-track handle.
Led by strong performances from Twinspires.com and Youbet.com, collective handle for the four largest domestic advance deposit wagering platforms increased by roughly 15% in the first quarter of the year, while their overall share of the national betting pie grew by more than 2%.
Wagering was up on several segments of the Preakness day card, according to data released May 18 by Maryland Jockey Club officials, fueled in part by the showdown between Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) victress Rachel Alexandra.
Flush off a quarter in which it saw increased handle and profit, Youbet.com said May 13 it would look at possibly establishing a presence in another country in an effort to expand its wagering offerings beyond horse racing.
Tampa Bay Downs reported May 7 a 2.7% decline in all-sources handle for its recently-concluded 2008-2009 winter/spring meet at the racetrack located in Oldsmar, Fla.
Citing the absence of insurance payments received in 2008, Churchill Downs Inc. reported a net loss of $4.8 million in the first quarter of the year, but said a 12% increase in net revenues were attributed to strength in its Louisiana gaming business and on-line wagering operation.
Wagering on United States Thoroughbred racing in the first four months of the year declined 9.5%, according to Equibase's "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" released May 4.
Total wagering from all sources on the 13-race Kentucky Derby card May 2 at Churchill Downs was $155,969,770, a decline of 5.3% from the $164,668,176 wagered a year earlier on 12 races, the track has reported.
The Lexington track attracted near-record crowds but the all-sources handle still fell 19.5%. The on-track handle fared a bit better.
Good weather and a five-day race week were credited for a 3.69% rise in the all-sources handle at Gulfstream Park.
All-sources handle for the recently-concluded Laurel Park winter-spring meet fell 25.5%, Maryland Jockey Club officials have reported.
Oaklawn Park realized an increase in handle and attendance during its 54-day meet that ended April 11, according to a published report.
Wagering continued its decline in 2009 in a year-over-year comparison, falling 9.4% through March, according to data released April 3 by Equibase.
Even though TVG, TwinsSpires.com, and XpressBet.com enjoyed handle growth in 2008, total wagers processed by advance deposit wagering entities through hubs in Oregon decreased for the first time this decade, though the numbers are skewed by actions related to another member of the "Big Four," Youbet.com.
Philadelphia Park has been asked to cease handling account wagers on racing affiliated with TrackNet Media Group unless the Pennsylvania track signs a new licensing agreement with the content group.
Churchill Downs has seen some weakness in ticket sales for its annual Derby-Oaks weekend extravaganza, but feels there is enough interest in the events to produce another strong showing for the racetrack company.
Youbet.com reported a loss of $4.5 million for 2008, fueled by an $11.2 million fourth-quarter impairment charge for subsidiary United Tote, the company reported March 5.
Driven by its live export signal to out of state outlets, total handle is up slightly at Tampa Bay Downs through the mid-way part of the 94-day meet, the track reported Feb. 20.
Some Nevada casino racebooks are booking wagers on races from tracks affiliated with TrackNet Media Group after the content company recently cut off signals to the state over a contract dispute.
Despite comments from TrackNet Media Group that negotiations are "going backwards" over issues involving racing signals to Nevada racebooks, the player on the other side of the table offered guarded hope matters can be resolved before a Jan. 25 cut-off deadline.
All-sources handle for all New York Racing Association tracks declined 2.1% in 2008, but purses grew 3.1%, it was reported Jan. 22.
Wagering in Florida on Calder Race Course's recently concluded Tropical at Calder meet fell 31% in 2008, according to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.
Hampered by a 20.3% drop in total handle in December, wagering in the United States declined 7.2% in 2008 to record the lowest overall total in a decade.
Gulfstream Park is hoping that a move to a five-day race week will help produce larger fields and attract more live fans and other bettors on days that have proven more popular than its newly-dark Mondays.
Remington Park in Oklahoma recently completed its 20th season of Thoroughbred racing with a record purse disbursement and increased attendance, but followed national trends with a decline in most wagering statistics.
Woodbine concluded its 167-day Thoroughbred meet Dec. 7 with a 1.55% drop in all-sources handle, the Toronto-area track recently reported.
After turning over a new leaf in management, Youbet.com's net income for the third quarter of 2008 experienced a significant increase in profit from the year before.
Churchill Downs Inc. more than doubled its net earnings against decreasing revenues from continuing operations in the third quarter, the company announced Nov. 5.
The 37-day 2008 Belmont fall meeting, which ended on Oct. 26, produced mixed business results. All-sources handle on NYRA races was $356.3 million, compared with the 2007 figure of $346.5 million, for an increase of 2.8%. Because the 2008 meet included four more days than the 2007 meet, there was actually an 8.3% decline in the equivalent daily average all-sources handle figure.
An otherwise sluggish Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet got turned around by hosting the Breeders' Cup World Championships, Oct. 24-25. Excluding the Breeders' Cup, the Oak Tree handle was down 14%.
Handle on races in the United States sharply dropped 9.85% in the third quarter of this year, clearly in keeping with a trend that began in early 2008.
Turfway Park closed its 2008 fall meet with declines in all-sources and on-track handle, the Florence, Ky., track reported Oct. 3.
Presque Isle Downs reported a total handle of $31,425,213 for its 101-day meet that ended Sept. 28, a stand that was 76 days longer than the track's inaugural meet last year.
Early handicapping on signal distribution of the Breeders' Cup World Championships shows the prestigious event will be available to a wide variety of outlets and bettors, at first glance calming fears of any "signal wars" fallout evident in other revenue-sharing disputes involving advance deposit wagering.
Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino's recently concluded 2008 spring/summer Thoroughbred season posted all-time highs in average nightly handle, single-night handle, average field size, and purse distribution for the 84-night meet.
Ellis Park ended its annual racing meet Sept. 1 with a 3% drop in daily handle, despite broader signal distribution to advance deposit wagering outlets.
Del Mar closed its 69th race meeting Sept. 3 with declines in handle and attendance, but track officials were left with a positive attitude in light of tough economic conditions.
Calder Race Course has asked the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering for permission to hold live racing four days a week, rather than five, during 11 weeks beginning Sept. 1.
Severe thunderstorms, heavy rain, and nearly continuous inclement conditions played havoc on attendance and handle figures during the third week of the 2008 Saratoga Race Course meet, according to the New York Racing Association, Inc.
Handle and attendance are down through the first week of the 2008 Saratoga meeting, the New York Racing Association reported July 28.
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