Trend of Declining Handle, Purses Continues

Pari-mutuel handle on Thoroughbred racing is still down 10%.

With less than two months to go in 2009, total handle on United States Thoroughbred racing continues to be almost 11% less than the same period in 2008.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released Nov. 4 by Equibase, wagering on U.S. races for the first 10 months of this year totaled $10,587,270,436, down 10.88% from $11,880,122,731 for January-October 2008.

Thoroughbred purses year-to-date were $930,847,834, down 8.29% from $1,014,997,145, and the number of race days — individual programs at each track — totaled 5,191, down 2.02% from 5,298.

The figures are skewed by the scheduling of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Last year, the two-day event was held Oct. 24-25; this year, it’s scheduled for Nov. 6-7.

Figures for the first 10 months and October of 2008 reflect $150,593,454 in Breeders’ Cup handle and $27,322,500 for Breeders’ Cup purses.

For October, handle on U.S. races was $932,651,648, down 17.17% from $1,125,935,224 in 2008. Purses totaled $105,200,583, down 15.56% from $124,591,684 last year. Number of race days was up 3.31% from 513 to 530.

November 2009 figures will include Breeders’ Cup.