Report: Betting on Thoroughbreds Rose 3.19% in 2002

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."

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.