Anne M. Eberhardt

Economic Indicators: Handle Down, Purses Up

Economic indicators for U.S. racing show decreased handle and improved purses.

Consistent with recent trends, pari-mutuel handle on United States racing fell and purses rose during the month of April and for the year to date.

According to statistics released May 4 by Equibase, the $927.3 million wagered during the fourth month of the year represented a 7.5% decline from the slightly more than $1 billion wagered during the same month a year ago.

Meanwhile, with the number of U.S. race days falling 7.6% to 400 from 433 a year earlier, purses rose 3.5% to a total of $84.9 million, up from $82.1 million.

For the first four months of the year, the $3.5 billion wagered is down 8.2% from the $3.8 billion figure through the same period in 2010. Purses of $286.6 million represent a gain of 4.7% over the comparable $276.4 million in 2010. Overall race days have declined 3.5% from 1,481 to 1,429.