Pari-mutuel handle, purses, and race days all declined in May compared with the same month in 2009, according to the latest Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators.
Wagering on U.S. races in May 2010 totaled $1,261,910,423, down more than $100 million or 8.27% from $1,375,710,147 in May 2009. U.S. purses totaled $100,203,543 in May, down 4.82% from $105,273,920 last May. Race days—individual racing programs at each track—numbered 563, down 35 or 5.85% from 598.
The May figures include the lucrative Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (gr. I) program but not the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) program, which was run April 30.
When comparing May 2008 with May 2009, handle, purses, and race days were down 8.26%, 6.73%, and 4.93%, respectively.
With fewer race days, average purses per program rose slightly from $176,043 in May 2009 to $177,981 in May 2010.
Year-to-date numbers have leveled off some after a rough 2009 during which total handle on U.S. races declined about $3 billion.
For the first four months of 2010, wagering totaled $5,049,762,873, down 8.37% from $5,511,118,045 for the same period in 2009; purses totaled $376.607,075, down 6.68% from $403,565,978; and race days numbered 2,044, down 6.84% from 2,194.
The Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators are published each month by Equibase.