Purses Spike in First Quarter of 2017

The first edition of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) and some additional race days in the first quarter of 2017 helped purses surge nearly 8% in the first three months of the year.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released April 5 by Equibase, purses improved 7.76% to $212,670,977 in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same three months of 2016.

In January, Gulfstream Park hosted the inaugural $12 million Pegasus, which replaced the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) on the South Florida track's schedule--an $11.5 million purse increase. But that increase does not completely account for the $15.32 million increase in purses in the first quarter compared with 2016.

Purses in the first quarter also were helped by a 3.78% increase in race days to 879 and a 3.68% increase in races to 7,550. Average purses per race day improved 3.84% to $241,947.

While the addition of the Pegasus and added race days helped improve purses, wagering on U.S. races still declined in the quarter, off 1.04% to $2,472,799,741.

Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators

1st QTR 2017 vs. 1st QTR 2016


1st QTR 2017

1st QTR 2016

% Change

Wagering on U.S. Races*




U.S. Purses




U.S. Race Days




U.S. Races




U.S. Starts




Average Field Size




Average Wagering Per Race Day




Average Purses Per Race Day




* Includes worldwide commingled wagering on U.S. races.