Anne M. Eberhardt

February Handle Down 11.6% From 2008

Total handle on U.S. races in February was down 11.63% from the same period in 2008.

The rollercoaster ride for pari-mutuel handle continues, according to the latest Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released by Equibase.

Wagering on United States races in February totaled $999,815,818, down 11.63% from $1,131,333,323 the same month a year earlier despite a 3.38% increase in the number of racing days. The double-digit decline in February handle followed a drop of only 1.56% in January; in December 2008, handle plummeted 20.3% from year-earlier figures.

U.S. purses in February totaled $65,796,177, down 6.76% from $70,566,050 in February 2008. Race days—individual programs at each track—totaled 359 in February, down from 363 a year earlier.

So far in 2009, handle has totaled $2,042,342,114, down 6.76% from $2,190,340,741 for the first two months of 2008. Purses are down 1.73%, from $138,857,203 in 2008 to $136,449,823 this year. Race days increased 3.38% from 711 to 735.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators, handle includes worldwide commingled betting on U.S. races.