The numbers are considered positive given residual economic stress from 9/11 and the perceived impact of the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 investigation that began Oct. 28. In early December, Smith said there didn't appear to be declines in handle immediately after the fraud was exposed.The five-year (1998-2002) average annual increase in wagering on U.S. Thoroughbred racing is 2.95%. Total pari-mutuel wagering has increased annually since 1994.The quarterly numbers are issued jointly by Equibase and the NTRA.
Year-end "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" for pari-mutuel wagering in the United States and Canada show increases in total wagering and purses in 2002.Total wagering on U.S. Thoroughbred races increased 3.19% to $15,048,033,312 last year. Total U.S. purses increased 0.63% to $1,074,240,247. Total racing days for 2002 dropped from 6,578 to 6,545, mostly because of race-day cancellations caused by inclement weather in the fourth quarter."In a year marked by economic declines in a number of areas, it is noteworthy that horseracing sustained positive growth in pari-mutuel wagering for the ninth straight year," National Thoroughbred Racing Association commissioner Tim Smith said. "Only a negative fourth quarter, due primarily to the loss of 28 racing days in December, prevented even higher handle growth for the year."