Anne M. Eberhardt

Economic Indicators Positive for December

Handle increase ends long slide for Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators.

Bolstered partly by Gulfstream Park’s decision to begin its meet earlier than in the past, wagering on North American racing in December 2011 grew 17.88% when compared with the same month in 2010. It marked the first year-over-year monthly increase since November 2009.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released Jan. 5 by Equibase, figures for the fourth quarter of 2011 also surpassed those of the same three-month period a year earlier, ending a drought of 17 quarters that went back to the third quarter of 2007.

Equibase reported that total all-source handle of $800,597,776 in December 2011 was up $121,416,998 over December 2010. The December 2010 handle figures were impacted by the Dec. 7, 2010, closure of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, which led to increases in wagering at New York Racing Association tracks.

Gulfstream reported $121,481,447 was wagered during the 17 live racing dates as the Florida track opened in December for the first time. In the past, Calder has held the live racing dates in Southern Florida in December. (Calder's parent owner, Churchill Downs Inc., does not release monthly handle figures.) In exchange for its early opening, Gulfstream will end its meet April 8, 2012, rather than race through the entire month.

For the three months ending Dec. 31, handle was up 1.37%, race days up 4.40%, and purses increased 10% over the same quarter in 2010.

December 2011 vs. December 2010


December 2011

December 2010

% Change

Wagering on U.S. Races*




U.S. Purses




U.S. Race Days




YTD 2011 vs. YTD 2010


Annual 2011

Annual 2010

% Change

Wagering on U.S. Races*




U.S. Purses




U.S. Race Days




* Includes worldwide commingled wagering on U.S. races.