Anne M. Eberhardt

Declines in U.S. Wagering, Purses Continue

November economic indicator totals are greater than those for the year to date.

Wagering, purses, and race days in United States Thoroughbred racing continued a downward spiral in November compared to one year ago, according to the latest available data. 

The "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" report released Dec. 4 by Equibase said wagering on United States races in November 2010 totaled $906,259,429, off 7.78% from $982,739,386 for November 2009.

Purses for the same period totaled $95,520,748, down 8.45% from $104,342,180 last year.

There were 375 race days (individual racing programs at each track) versus 411 in November 2009, a decline of 8.76%.

The November numbers exceeded the reported declines for handle, purses, and race days for the year to date.

For the first 11 months of 2010, total pari-mutuel handle on U.S. racing was off 7.20%, from $11,571,305,558 in 2009 to $10,737,672,191.

Purses for the first 11 months of 2010 totaled $971,189,950, a drop of 6.20% from $1,035,358,895 last year. Race days declined by 442 days or 7.89%, from 5,601 last year to 5,159 in 2010.

A glimmer of good news is that it appears the handle decline is slowing this year; wagering fell 9.9% to $12.3 billion from 2008 to 2009. Purses were off about $100 million last year, while the number of race days dropped only 2.3% from 2008 to 2009.