Handle, Purses Down Double Digits in January

Handle and purses were down double digits in January.

Pari-mutuel handle in January 2009 was down only 1.56% from the same month in 2008, but this year, it took a substantial double-digit hit.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators provided by Equibase, wagering on United States races in January 2010 was $917,083,595, down 12.03% from $1,042,532,063 a year ago.

U.S. purses, up 3.46% to $70,667,466 in January 2009, were down 10.04% in January 2010 to $63,574,094.

Part of the decline in handle and purses can be attributed to a 7.98% decrease in race days—individual programs at each track—from 376 last January to 346 in January 2010. But clearly the national economy, declines in many gaming sectors, and overall malaise in Thoroughbred racing are factors.

In 2009, handle dropped almost 10% from 2008 and was almost $3 billion less than when the decade began. Handle and purses trended positively in the second half of 2009, but enough to reverse the declines.