Handle Declines Slightly in January

Thoroughbred handle declined slightly in January, while purses were up.

Pari-mutuel handle was down 1.56% in January compared with the same month in 2008, but the decline wasn’t close to the 20.3% slip in handle in December 2008 versus a year earlier.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released Feb. 4 by Equibase, total wagering on United States in January was $1,042,526,296, compared with $1,059,007,418 in January 2008. There were, however, 26 more race days—single programs at each track—in January, up 8.05% from 348 last year to 376 this year.

U.S. purses totaled $70,653,646 in January, up 3.46% from $68,291,153 a year earlier.

The January handle of about $1 billion was up from $820,358,357 in December, when there were 330 race days. In December 2007 and January 2008, handle was about even at just more than $1 million.

Earlier in January, National Thoroughbred Racing Association officials said it appeared handle was trending upward for the month. Overall in 2008, handle dropped almost 8% from 2007.