Handle, Purses Hit Hard by Drop in Race Days

Handle, Purses Hit Hard by Drop in Race Days
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Weather played a role in the reduction of racing days in February.

A steep drop in the number of race days contributed to double-digits declines in pari-mutuel handle and purses in February.

According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released by Equibase March 4, the number of race days—individual programs at each track—fell 16.99% to 298 from 359 in February 2009.

Among the tracks that cut back this year are Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, which last year raced all of February but this year opened March 1, and Turfway Park, which raced three days a week in February instead of five last year. There were numerous weather- and track-related cancellations at other tracks.

Fewer days and the continued economic slump contributed to a 13% drop in wagering on United States racing ($999,805,298 last February to $869,807,865 this year) and a 13.43% decline in purses ($65,795,877 last year versus $56,960,519 in 2010).

For the first two months of 2010, total handle on U.S. races is down 12.51% ($1,786,891,460 from $2,042,337,361 for January and February 2009); purses are down 11.67% ($120,534,613 from $136,463,343); and race days are down 12.38% (644 from 735).

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