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

The Economic Impact of the Horse Racing Industry in Just One State

According to information published in the Equibase program at Monmouth Park in 2019:

The total economic impact of the equine industry is $1.1 billion annually.

The industry pays over $160 million in federal, state and local taxes.

176,000 total acres of real estate are in use in New Jersey alone for equine operations.  An additional 46,000 acres produce hay and grain for horses.  An estimated 13,000 jobs are generated just in New Jersey.

The original Monmouth Park racetrack opened in 1870.  The current structure opened on June 19, 2946 and with its desirable location close to the Jersey beaches, it has attracted tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Here is a look at the impact of the horse racing industry in the great state of  Florida.

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:

How horse racing can appeal to a younger crowd

The Sport can overcome its ugly past

Let’s be clear. I wasn’t planning on liking horse racing.

I spent the first four weeks of the shutdown in a hazy search for sports, looking for signs of it everywhere — in old NBA classics, Madden simulations, the car chases on TV from which I couldn’t un-glue myself.

Growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, I made the three-hour trek to Calgary Stampede parties multiple summers in a row without ever giving a single thought to buying tickets to the rodeo. Horse racing was even less than an afterthought.

Even though I thought it would be tedious, maybe a little charming but ultimately not for me, I was ready to play the ponies. It’s the kind of thing you do early in a relationship, when you’re still pretending to be open to new experiences.

And then a dozen beautiful horses leaped from the gates, and I was entranced…

Read how she got hooked on horse racing

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:

New Year is Breaking Records Already with The Richest Horse Race Ever

Is Horse Racing Dead?

We are only at the beginning of 2020 and it looks set to be a very exciting year if you are a fan of horse racing. There are already some amazing horse races around the globe but Saudi Arabia is set to become the biggest and best hotspot for the sport, as the richest horse race in the world is set to be held on February 29th in Riyadh.

Confirmed to have a prize pot of $20 million, the Saudi Cup is going to trump any other horse race that has been held in terms of prize money by several million. With prize money like this, you can be sure that this horse race is going to attract some of the biggest and best horses, trainers, and jockeys from all around the world.

With that in mind, continue reading to find out more about the race itself, as well as the horses that are rumored to be entering the mix at the moment.

What is the Saudi Cup?

The Saudi Cup is a nine-furlong race that is going to be run on the dirt track at King Abdulaziz Racetrack. There are going to be a maximum field of 14 starters for the race. There are a number of different opportunities for horses to qualify for the race. For example, the winner of the Pegasus Cup in Florida will be invited to run in the race, even if they have not entered it previously. Furthermore, there is going to be a race held on the 7th of February in Saudi Arabia for Arabian horses to earn the chance to qualify. The winner will secure a position in the world’s richest horse race.

More about the Saudi Cup:

The State of Horse Racing in Ireland

Horse Racing Ireland sees on-course betting increase in 2019

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), the sports’ national governing body, has reported a 4.5% year-on-year rise in on-course betting turnover for 2019, despite seeing a decline in Tote wagering.

Total on-course betting turnover for the 12 months through to 31 December 2019, including the Tote, amounted to €78.9m (£66.8m/$88.8m), up from €75.5m in the previous year.

Growth was driven by an increase in turnover from betting rings, which climbed 6.6% year-on-year to €58.4m.

However, the HRI noted a decline in turnover from on-course Tote betting, with this falling by 0.9% to €10.6m, while turnover from on-course starting price (SP) shops also fell by 1.0% to €9.9m.

Total Tote betting turnover was also down by 13.0% from €69.2m in 2018 to €60.2m in the past year.

On-course betting was boosted by an increase in attendance, with this figure up 3.2% year-on-year from 1.27m to 1.32m, due in part to a busy Christmas period.

Elsewhere, prize money climbed 4% to €66.1m for the year, while the HRI said commercial sponsorship was also up by 17.3% to €6.1m. However, there was a slight decline in European Breeders Fund sponsorship, which declined 0.5% to €2.19m.

More about State of Horse Racing in Ireland

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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Horse Racing in New York. An Annual Financial Recap

Source: NYRA

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that its 2019 race meets conducted at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course generated all-sources handle of $2,108,126,369.

For the first time in history, 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.

Wagering from all-sources at Saratoga totaled $705,343,949, a figure that 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.

Belmont Park crowd

copyright Agameofskill.com

Inclement weather forced the full cancellation of seven race days and partial cancellation of six cards during the year. As a result, there were 217 race days in 2019 at NYRA tracks with average daily handle of $9,714,868.

Total all sources handle in 2018 was $2,113,408,494 with average daily handle over the 219 days of live racing in 2018 of $9,650,267.

2019 featured 2,000 races at NYRA tracks, or 38 fewer than were contested in 2018. 125 races were taken off the turf in 2019 compared with 193 in 2018.

2019 Belmont Stakes

The June 8 Belmont Stakes Day card, highlighted by Sir Winston’s victory in the 151st running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, generated all-sources handle of $102,163,280, a NYRA record for a non-Triple Crown year.

All-sources handle for the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival was $131,858,886.

In total, the 48-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet generated all sources handle of $524,051,257 with on-track handle of $62,499,109. Average daily handle during the spring/summer meet was $10,917,735.

The 2019 Belmont Park fall meet generated all-sources handle of $274,929,718. Average daily handle over the 37 days of live racing was $7,430,533 with on-track handle totaling $32,523,572.

The 25-day 2019 fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack generated all-sources handle of $205,249,710, and on-track handle of $20,712,645. Average daily handle during the fall meet at the Big A was $8,209,988.

Total on-track handle across all NYRA meets in 2019 was $310,053,754, a 5.2 percent decrease from the 2018 total of $326,893,963.