Handle Declines, But Purses Remain Steady

Pari-mutuel handle on Thoroughbred racing in the United States and Canada was down 3.8% in the second quarter of 2005, though purses dipped less than 1% for the quarter, according to the latest "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators."

Total Thoroughbred handle for the second quarter was $3,997,856,307, down from $4,155,858,973 for the second quarter of 2004. Total purses came in at $293,271,705, down 0.48% from $294,672,945 a year earlier.

The second-quarter purse total for this year is about 7% of total handle.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Equibase release the quarterly figures. The NTRA said not having a Triple Crown on the line this year contributed to the handle decline.

"Without the natural momentum that having a Triple Crown at stake generates, and given a nearly 4% decline in pari-mutuel wagering, we are nonetheless encouraged that purses held steady," NTRA commissioner D.G. Van Clief Jr. said in a statement.

The NTRA also noted that race days--the number of individual programs held at all tracks--was down 2.16% in the second quarter, from 1,806 last year to 1,767 this year.