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Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Washington

Emerald Downs increases horse racing purses

Emerald Downs in Auburn has announced a 10% purse increase for all races the final three weeks of the 2020 live horse racing season.

The track runs races on Wednesday and Thursday, with the season ending Oct. 29.

Through 30 days of live racing, handle is averaging $1.87 million, up 67% over last year.

Emerald Downs President Phil Ziegler said the purse increase is a result of better than expected handle…

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not Yet

September Derby Brings Bettors, Handle Boost to Racing Economic Totals

Horseplayers wagered more than $3.2 billion in the third quarter. That represents a 12.73% bump from 2019’s figures of $2.92 billion.

At the same time, America’s most wagered race running the first Saturday in September instead of the first Saturday in May resulted in a 29.64% increase in September 2020 wagering. Bettors put down more than $1.039 billion in September, compared to $801.98 million in 2019. A September Derby was a big reason why.

That even came with a decline in Kentucky Derby day wagering, which Churchill Downs attributes to the lack of on-track wagering and a prohibitive favorite in Tiz the Law. The Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes champion lost a fierce stretch battle to Authentic…

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Is Horse Racing Dead? Not at Little ‘Ole Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Downs enjoys another record-breaking meet with total betting at over $59M on 62 races

By Jennie Rees and Dick Downey
Kentucky Downs 2020 Recap

Even before Saffie Joseph won Wednesday’s eighth race with Sugar Fix on closing day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, the trainer’s thoughts had turned to next year.

“First meet here. I love it,” said Joseph, one of America’s fast-rising trainers who this summer expanded his East Coast base to include Kentucky. “It’s a cool setting, different from what you’re used to seeing in America. It’s kind of like a European track. I’m coming back every year. As long as we have the owners providing the horses, we hope to make this an important part of our year.”

Fergus Galvin, a representative for Qatar Racing’s Sheikh Fahad al Thani, said that Guildsman’s victory in the Grade 3 Franklin-Simpson Stakes on the closing card “certainly made Sheikh Fahad a big fan of Kentucky Downs. He’s already wanting to stock up the stable to point to the meeting next year.”

Kentucky Downs smashed its betting records at the six-date meet with total wagering of $59,828,444 on 62 races, including $9,487,705 on Wednesday’s 10-race finale. The previous record was last year’s $41,239,699 for 50 races over five days….

Kentucky Downs purses since 2011
Year (dates) purses

2020 (6) $12,337,000
2019 (5) $11,520,380
2018 (5) $10,273,630
2017 (5) $8,625,396
2016 (5) $7,923,476
2015 (5) $6,609,355
2014 (5) $4,875,722
2013 (5) $4,150,687
2012 (5) $2,086,650
2011 (4) $796,810

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Kentucky

Mdspwt Purses between $70,000 and $97,000

Projected autumn purse levels for maiden special weight races on the Kentucky circuit were revealed during a video meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) advisory committee on Tuesday.

Ben Huffman, director of racing at Churchill Downs, said, “We’re going to have two [MSW] purses. We’re going to supercharge [GI Kentucky] Derby week, like we’ve been doing. And that maiden purse Derby week is going to be $97,000. The remaining nine days are going to be $75,000.”

Churchill had closed out its spring/summer season at the $79,000 level for MSW races.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Belmont Park Sees 42% Increase in Average Daily Handle

The New York Racing Association Inc. today announced that the Belmont Park spring/summer meet generated $15,466,198 in average daily handle from all sources, a 42 percent increase over the 2019 spring/summer meet.

Abbreviated to 25-days and held without spectators in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening of the spring/summer meet on Wednesday, June 3 marked the return of professional sports in New York and was conducted with strict health and safety protocols in place.

Despite running 23 fewer days than in 2019, a 48 percent decrease, all sources handle during the spring/summer meet totaled $386,654,955.

Average field size over the 248 races carded was 8.61, a 23 percent increase over 2019. Five races were taken off the turf due to weather, and all five came on July 10 with the impact of Tropical Storm Fay.

More about Belmont Park Handle:

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Wyoming

Wyoming’s horse racing industry has boosted economy

The Economic Impact Analysis by the Innovation Group “documents the rapid growth and financial impact of horse racing here in the Equality State. Overall the Wyoming Horse Racing Industry generates more than $62 million in annual output for the state’s economy with an annual employment impact of 454 jobs.”

The report states the horse racing industry “is a vital contributor to the Wyoming economy through its various operating activities – including the major racetracks, off-track betting and historical wagering facilities; and the activities of the horse breeders, trainers (including jockeys and grooms) and the horse owners; as well as industry-induced tourism.”

The report noted the horse racing industry contributed over $24 million to the cities and counties in which they operate since 2013.

And, in 2019 alone, those municipalities received $7,934,771.

The increase reflects the change of thought and operation created by the 2013 law, according to Joyce.

More:

Is Horse Racing Dead? Stagnant Last Year

Purses Up, Pari-Mutuel Handle Down in 2019 – according to The BloodHorse

This year’s U.S. purse total is the highest since 2007, a pre-Great Recession year with more than $1.18 billion in purses. Compared with 2007 this year’s purses were recorded at a time of reduced racing—down 42%. Considering that reduction in racing, the average purse per race in 2019 compared with 2007 is up 40.2% to $32,256.

While purses improved in 2019, the rash of breakdowns at Santa Anita Park that forced the Southern California track to halt racing after its March 8 card before reopening March 29, likely impacted pari-mutuel wagering. Wagering on U.S. races in 2019 was down 2% to $11,038,790,395 compared with last year.

More about 2019:

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Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Upstate New York

All-sources handle record set as wagering tops $700 million during 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course

Source: NYRA Press Office

by Pat Mckenna; Mark Bardack

Milestone record achieved during reconfigured racing calendar and despite cancellation of a Saturday racing card

For the first time in history, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) generated more than $700 million in all-sources handle during the 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course, which was conducted over a five-day race week and included the cancellation of a full Saturday card of racing.

Wagering from all-sources totaled $705,343,949 a staggering increase of more than $46 million, or 7 percent, over last year when racing was conducted for the full 40 days during a six-day week. This year’s handle eclipsed the previous record set in 2017 by nearly $29 million or 4.2 percent.

The milestone record was achieved despite the cancellation of a full racing card on the second Saturday of the season due to extreme heat, in addition to the cancellation of the final seven races on July 25 due to severe storms.

The record was also set during a season in which the Saratoga calendar was reconfigured to include a five-day race week, a departure from the traditional six days, and the earliest opening in modern history. The change was made to accommodate construction of a new arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park.

Average Daily Handle Up Nearly 10%

Average daily handle for the 2019 Saratoga meet was $18,085,742, an increase of 9.8 percent over the 2018 average daily handle of $16,477,086.

NYRA sets new all-sources handle record as wagering tops $700 million during 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course

copyright NYRA

“This has been a truly outstanding meet highlighted by the traditional recipe that sets Saratoga apart: world-class thoroughbred racing and entertainment. We would not be in this enviable position without the dedication of the owners, the talent of the horsemen, and the unmatched enthusiasm of our fans. I want to thank the local community for their support and everyone who contributed to our success this summer,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O’Rourke. “This summer also marked the loss of one of Saratoga’s most ardent benefactors, Mrs. Marylou Whitney. Saratoga and NYRA will forever be grateful for her contributions to racing.”

Klaravich Stables was the meet’s leading owner with 19 wins. Chad Brown defended his H. Allen Jerkens training title with 41 wins. Jockey Jose Ortiz claimed the Angel Cordero, Jr. riding title with 60 wins.

The 2019 season witnessed several other highwater marks, including record all-sources handle of $31,835,863 on Whitney Day and $52,129,344 on Travers Day.

This year’s banner Travers Day coincided with the 150th edition of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers, which aired for the first time on the FOX broadcast network and was watched by more than 1.3 million viewers nationwide.

Saratoga’s record handle can also be attributed, in part, to the unabated growth and popularity of Saratoga Live, NYRA’s highly-acclaimed and award-winning television program. Distributed to a nationwide audience across FS2, Saratoga Live featured more than 190 hours of live programming this season compared to 80 hours when the broadcast was first introduced in 2016. FS2, part of the Fox family of networks, carried full-card coverage during most of the meet’s 39 racing days. NYRA’s investment in content and distribution has been rewarded with an increase in year-over-year viewership of more than 140 percent.

This year’s Whitney Day celebrated the life and legacy of Mrs. Marylou Whitney, the beloved owner, breeder and philanthropist who passed away earlier in the meet.

Whitney Day featured a visit by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced plans to build the Marylou Whitney Backstretch Pavilion, a permanent structure on the Oklahoma training grounds to house the Saratoga Backstretch Appreciation program. Launched more than a decade ago by Mrs. Whitney and her husband, John Hendrickson, the program provides meals, entertainment and support for thousands of backstretch workers.

On the eve of Whitney Day, NYRA officially dedicated the Clubhouse entrance in Mrs. Whitney’s honor. Fans each summer will now pass through the “Marylou Whitney Entrance” upon their arrival at Saratoga Race Course.

The 2019 meet marked the debut of the Empire 6, NYRA’s new jackpot-style multi-race wager, which provided one of two mandatory payouts on closing day. A total of $5,379,911 was wagered on closing day of the Empire 6 for a total pool size of $6,173,478 which included the jackpot carryover. Monday’s five figure payout of $23,794 rivaled several other large Empire 6 payouts over the course of the meet including: $37,064 on August 21; $25,145 on August 14 and $12,547 on August 18.

The 2019 season saw the successful debut of the newest hospitality venue at Saratoga Race Course: the 1863 Club. Constructed over the course of only 10 months, the 36,000-square-foot, three-story, climate-controlled building welcomed thousands of fans who experienced its modern amenities and sweeping views and sightlines of the track during its inaugural season.

The Saratoga meet began with an Opening Weekend celebration to honor New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera. The legendary Yankees star visited the Spa just prior to his induction into Cooperstown as the first unanimous selection in the history of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. During the event, NYRA presented Rivera with commemorative framed blue and white pinstriped silks featuring the closer’s famed number “42”.

On-track handle for 2019 was $146,618,750.

Total paid attendance for the 2019 Saratoga meet was 1,056,053 over 39 days, marking the fifth consecutive season that paid attendance has exceeded one million fans.

Figures for all-sources handle at Saratoga dating back to 2010, the start of the 40-day meet, are as follows:

All-Sources Handle

2010 $551,660,724

2011* $526,251,819

2012 $588,351,964

2013 $586,617,240

2014 $571,163,485

2015 $648,272,805

2016 $647,322,503

2017 $676,709,490

2018 $659,083,459

2019* $705,343,949

*39 race days, due to weather cancellation

Live racing returns Friday, September 6 to Belmont Park for the 37-day fall meet, which includes 45 stakes worth $11.525 million in purse money – an increase of $1.45 million over 2018 – starting at Belmont Park from September 6 to October 6, and concluding at Aqueduct Racetrack, with Belmont at the Big A from October 11 to October 27. The fall championship meet will be highlighted by eight Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers held over two weekends.

For more information, visit NYRA.com for the report on horse racing in upstate New York.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Travers Card Sets Records

2019 Travers Stakes Card sets Record Handle numbers

Source: NYRA Press Office

For the second consecutive year, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) generated a Travers Day record all-sources handle as fans wagered $52,129,344 on an afternoon that featured the 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers.

On-track handle was  $11,657,493, which is also a new Travers Day record.

Saratoga canopy walk throughA paid crowd of 48,213 witnessed Code of Honor secure the fourth Travers victory for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and second for Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Code of Honor, owned by William S. Farish and Lane’s End Farm, posted a final time of 2:01.05 in the Runhappy Travers.

For the first time in history, fans nationwide watched the Runhappy Travers action unfold on the FOX Broadcast Network as part of a special one-hour telecast. Overall, the FOX Sports family of networks broadcast 6 ½ hours of live racing action from Saratoga which included all seven graded stakes on Travers Day.

The 150th Runhappy Travers was one of six Grade 1s on Travers Day, including the Grade 1, $850,000 Sword Dancer; Grade 1, $700,000 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti; Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina; Grade 1, $600,000 Forego presented by Encore Boston Harbor; and Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial presented by Runhappy. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.

The 2019 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com.

Travers Day Handle 2015-2019

2019 Travers Day

August 24, 2019

All-sources: $52,129,344

On-track: $11,657,493

 

2018 Travers Day

August 25, 2018

All-sources: $52,086,597

On-track: $11,466,264

2017 Travers Day

August 26, 2017

All-sources: $47,870,987

On-track: $10,862,095

 

2016 Travers Day

August 27, 2016

All-sources: $45,596,367

On-track: $10,778,993

 

2015 Travers Day

August 29, 2015

All-sources: $49,668,754

On-track: $11,472,451

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Ohio

Mahoning Valley Racecourse concluded its Fall Meet and 2018 calendar season and did so with yet another annual increase in wagering. Since its launch in 2014, the young racetrack in Austintown, Ohio, has seen handle increases each calendar year since opening its doors. All told, wagering volume on the Mahoning product for 2018 increased 10.6% compared to the prior year.

“We are extremely proud to announce yet another increase in handle and both the state of Ohio and Ohio horsemen should also take pride in this accomplishment,” said Vice President of Racing Mark Loewe. “It’s incredibly exciting to see our team, from Racing Secretary Ed Vomacka, his racing office crew, valets, gate crew, and all operate at such a high level year after year. It takes a team effort and we have one heck of a team.”

For the Fall Meet, jockey Luis M. Quinones captured his first riding title at Mahoning Valley, piloting 31 of his 189 mounts to the winner’s circle. Quinones also finished third nationally in 2018 with 281 wins.

“He’s such a hard worker,” said Quinones’ agent Billy Johnson. “He’s out there every morning working hard. He drives from track to track without complaint. I don’t know how he does it, but his work ethic and obvious talent make it a pleasure to work with him.”

While Quinones notched his first riding title, it was more business as usual in the trainer’s standings as Jeff Radosevich collected yet another training title. For the Ohio-based Radosevich, there’s little better than winning another training title on his longtime stomping grounds.

“I have great owners. Obviously, I couldn’t have done any of this without their continued and unwavering support. I love Ohio. Mahoning Valley gives me an opportunity to race year-round from my home. Thank you Mahoning Valley!”

Mahoning Valley held its signature event – the $250,000 Steel Valley Sprint – on November 19 and the marquee race of the meet didn’t disappoint as Trigger Warning won an epic stretch duel with Bobby’s Wicked One. Trained by Mike Rone, Trigger Warning was put on the lead early under Irwin Rosendo and then engaged in a fierce battle with the runner-up from the top of the stretch to the wire and was made the winner after Tyler Gaffalione’s claim of foul was not allowed. In the $75,000 Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Distaff on the Steel Valley Sprint undercard, the gray mare Puntsville was able to hold off a late charge from Lake Ponchatrain to score her 13th victory in 25 career outings.

While she did not take part in any of the unrestricted stakes Mahoning offered during the Fall Meet, Leona’s Reward was tabbed the horse of the meet after dominating Ohio-breds in her three starts in restricted stakes events. Trained by Tim Hamm, Leona’s Reqard romped by eight-lengths over Ohio-bred fillies and mares in the Ohio Debutante Handicap on November 3 and followed that up with a win against the boys in the Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial two weeks later. In her final start of the meet, the daughter of Parents’ Reward returned to face fillies and mares in the Bobbie Bricker and again cruised to a seven-length score. All told, Leona’s Reward banked a total of $135,000 during the Fall Meet for her owners Blazing Meadows Farm LLC and Michael Friedman.

2018 Mahoning Valley Fall Jockey Standings (final)
Rank Jockey Starts 1st 2nd 3rd
1 Luis M. Quinones 189 31 19 16
2 T. D. Houghton 163 25 24 17
3 Christian P. Pilares 122 24 15 22
4 Luis Raul Rivera 120 23 13 17
5 Luis H. Colon 60 22 7 9

2018 Mahoning Valley Fall Trainer Standings (final)
Rank Trainer Starts 1st 2nd 3rd
1 Jeffrey A. Radosevich 108 30 14 4
2 Robert M. Gorham 99 21 15 11
3 Gary L. Johnson 86 17 9 8
4 Jay P. Bernardini 60 13 8 10
5 Rodney Faulkner 102 12 9 8

Source: Press Release