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Handle, Purses Up Double Digits in August

Through the first eight months of 2012, wagering on U.S. races has increased 2.29%.

Aided by an increase in race days, pari-mutuel handle and purses in August registered the largest gains in recent memory, according to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released Sept. 5.

Equibase reported worldwide commingled wagering on United States races of $1,096,240,662, up 11.64% from $981,964,336 in August 2011. U.S. purses totaled $117,103,024, an increase of 21.44% from last August.

Meanwhile, the number of race days−individual programs at each track−jumped 9.30% from 527 last August to 576 this year. There were some schedule adjustments this year; Parx Racing, for instance, was dark most of last August but raced throughout the month this year.

The handful of racetracks that now report handle on a semi-regular basis indicated they had a strong month of wagering, including Del Mar and Saratoga Race Course. In addition, those two meets offered higher purses this year.

The August 2012 figures reflect a solid turnaround from a year ago. Handle last August was down 12.30% from August 2010, purses were off 7.70%, and race days declined 6.50%.

For the first eight months of 2012, handle on U.S. Thoroughbred races totaled $7,679,078,559, up 2.29% from $7,507,038,250 at this point last year. Purses through August were up 8.39% to $747,464,841 from $689,612,781 for the first eight months of 2011, while U.S. race days of 3,662 so far this year are up 1.81% from 3,597.