Still No Signs of Life for Total U.S. Handle

Pari-mutuel handle on Thoroughbred racing remains more than $1 billion short of 2008.

Pari-mutuel handle on United States racing continued its decline in August despite the country’s two premier summer meets at Del Mar and Saratoga.

The latest “Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators” released Sept. 4 show handle from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31 down by more than $1 billion compared with the same period in 2008. Handle during the eight-month period was down 11.1%, from January through July, handle was down 10.9%.

Year-to-date handle figures reported by Equibase were $8,768,228,778 this year versus $9,863,179,762 last year.

Purses through August 2009 totaled $728,117,201, down 7.43% from $786,549,808 in 2008. The number of race days—individual programs at each track—was 4,115 through August, down 2.99% from 4,242 in 2008.

For August alone, handle totaled $1,217,594,096, a decrease of 12.35% from $1,389,219,047 for August 2008. Purses for the month came in at $113,498,641, down 11.35% from $128,028,016 last year. Race days fell 8.32% from 709 last year to 650 this year.

Equibase noted the 2009 purse figure was adjusted to exclude money from the National Steeplechase Association. Purses for NSA events were included in the July 2009 total.