Culminating with 62,500 fans turning out to watch champion Classic Empire win the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), the 2017 Oaklawn live racing season concluded with nearly a 5% gain in total handle and another record-setting season for purses.
Purses for maiden special weight races will increase from $72,000 to $80,000 and allowance races will go to as much as $84,000 after starting the season for as much as $76,000.
Move will put more money into overnight purses
The Illinois Racing Board on Jan. 24 discussed a proposal to put $500,000 in expected surplus funds into the state's purse accounts.
While wagering on U.S. races in 2016 was flat--up less than 1% compared with 2015--bettors continue to support a reduced Thoroughbred racing product.
Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, announced Jan. 16 across-the-board purse increases beginning with Condition Book 2, which starts Jan. 30.
Woodbine Entertainment Group announced wagering on Woodbine's 2016 live Thoroughbred racing season, which concluded Dec. 4, rose sharply over the 2015 meet.
According to numbers released Dec. 4 by Equibase, handle through November is similar to the first 11 months of 2015 and purses are down slightly.
Churchill Downs reports a 1.9% increase in purses paid at the 21-day fall meet that concluded Nov. 27 in Louisville.
While Breeders' Cup scheduling accounts for most of the wagering declines in October 2016 compared with last year, handle still declined even when last year's Breeders' Cup is not considered.
Keeneland closed its 2016 fall meet, which celebrated the 80th anniversary of racing at the world-famous track, on Oct. 29 with record total on-track attendance of 276,543 and substantial gains in on-track and all-sources wagering.
Despite a logistical nightmare in terms of the facility and weather-related disruptions, the Gulfstream Park West meet is slightly ahead of last year's pace in total handle.
Through the first nine months of 2016, pari-mutuel wagering is slightly up and purses are slightly down compared with the same nine months of 2015.
With record purses attracting full fields and low takeout sparking interest from horseplayers, Kentucky Downs closed its five-date boutique meet Sept. 15 with total wagering up nearly 34 percent.
Highlighted by its most successful single day ever, a sparkling parade of stakes races, and a continuing enhancement of its reputation as a sporting-entertainment venue, Del Mar raced to an uplifting finish to its 77th summer season Sept. 5.
Through the first two-thirds of 2016, total handle is up slightly and total purses are down slightly according to Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released Sept. 5 by Equibase.
Total pari-mutuel handle during the Laurel Park summer meet that ended Aug. 21 increased 20.2% from the comparable meet in 2015, according to Maryland Jockey Club statistics.
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.
Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort will be in the spotlight Aug. 6 with its $1.65 million all-stakes program featuring the West Virginia Derby. But on a day-to-day basis, the track continues to struggle in a difficult economic environment.
The West Virginia Racing Commission July 19 signed off on $1,170,000 in funding for purses for the 30th edition of the West Virginia Breeders' Classics Oct. 8 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
The most lucrative North American race meet of the year thus far in terms of overnight purses begins July 22 with the opening of Saratoga Race Course.
Officials at Del Mar reported increases in attendance and pari-mutuel handle for the California track's opening three-day weekend.
Horse Racing Ireland July 14 reported generally positive economic indicators for the industry in the first half of 2016.
Prize money for the 2016-17 Hong Kong racing season will extend to another record level while purses for two of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's three spring group I features, the Champions Mile and Chairman's Sprint Prize, will be increased.
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.
Though the numbers will vary depending on revenue generated by video lottery terminals, purse accounts at West Virginia racetracks will take another hit because of a legislature-mandated reduction to help support the fiscal 2016-17 budget.
The Pennsylvania House June 30 approved substantive changes to the Thoroughbred breeding fund, some payments from which have been suspended for months because of problematic language in a horse racing reform bill that became law in February.
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.
Del Mar will drop overnight purses for a second consecutive year, according to Del Mar Thoroughbred Club vice president of racing and industry relations Tom Robbins.
Increased entry fees await participating owners in this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships but Breeders' Cup officials note that many owner benefits have been added to the event in recent years and more will be unveiled in 2016.
Michigan lawmakers have passed legislation designed to improve the condition of the struggling pari-mutuel horseracing industry, which is down to two racetracks in the state.
The Breeders' Cup World Championships will have its purses increased this year to $28 million from $26 million. Purses for the Classic and the Turf will each get $1 million bumps.
Suffolk Downs received approval from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission June 9 to use $2.4 million from the Race Horse Development Fund for purses over six days of Thoroughbred racing this year.
Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Ontario Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association June 7 said they have signed a contract that guarantees 133 days of live racing at Woodbine through 2018.
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.
A measure to end the state's control of the New York Racing Association is advancing in the New York legislature, and a key lawmaker said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has still not revealed his own idea for the future of the racing organization.
Because of an increase in pari-mutuel revenue from Kentucky Derby (gr. I) week business, Churchill Downs June 1 said it will increase overnight purses by 4% for the remainder of its spring meet, which ends July 2.
After months of saying Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack is at risk of closure, the organization representing horsemen at the upstate New York track have begun a statewide ad campaign.
Average daily pari-mutuel handle for the recent Laurel Park meet increased 34.6% from the comparable meet in 2015, the Maryland Jockey Club reported May 10.
Thoroughbred racing will return to Suffolk Downs for three two-day racing festivals, officials at the Massachusetts track said May 5. The mini-meets will be held in July, August, and September.
Total number of races and starts also increase.
Keeneland May 2 released final spring-meet numbers that show growth in on-track wagering and field size for the 16-day meet that ended April 29.
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.
More than $228 million was accrued for purses at six Pennsylvania racetracks in 2015 with almost 90% of the funds derived from slot machine revenue, according to an annual report that analyzes the racetrack gaming industry in the state.
Canterbury Park and its horsemen's group hope to make a statement this year with an across-the-board reduction in pari-mutuel takeout rates that will range from 15% to 18% for the 2016 meet.
Keeneland will begin its spring meet with a bump in overnight purses, but track officials hope it's the start of steady growth made possible by revenue from Lexington's historical race wagering facility.
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.
Gulfstream Park reported record total pari-mutuel handle of $807 million for its 85-day Championship meet that concluded April 3. Average daily handle was $9.49 million.
The head of the horsemen's group at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack is predicting the end of racing at the upstate Thoroughbred track, after a new state government budget deal failed to protect purse levels.
Horses are back training at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, where more than three months of down time in late fall and winter allowed time for improvements in the barn area.
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