Handle, Purses, Race Days Down in October

Wagering and purses were down again in October of this year.

Wagering and purses for Thoroughbred racing declined again in October, in part because of a decrease of 61 race days from the same month in 2009.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released Nov. 4 by Equibase, wagering on United States races in October 2010 totaled $870,330,945, down 6.73% from $933,137,011 for October 2009. Purses totaled $96,348,680, down 8.42% from $105,203,133 last year.

There were 469 race days—individual racing programs at each track—versus 530 last October, a decline of 11.51%.

The October numbers reflect a trend from previous months. For the first 10 months of 2010, total pari-mutuel handle on U.S. racing was down 7.15%, from $10,588,566,172 in 2009 to $9,831,352,874.

Purses for the first 10 months of 2010 totaled $875,669,202, down 5.94% from $931,016,715 last year. Race days were down by 406 days—4,784 this year versus 5,190 last year.

Given the numbers, 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.

According to the Equibase figures, about $2.5 billion would have to be bet in the final two months of this year to match last year’s total handle.