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.

Remington and Woodbine Report Solid Handle Figures

Woodbine All-Sources Handle Second-Largest in History

Woodbine Entertainment announced Dec. 18 that the 2019 Thoroughbred meet produced an all-sources handle of $516,189,880.80—the second-largest in its history and the third consecutive year the Ontario track exceeded half a billion dollars.

The 131-day (with two cancellations) meet included 1,212 races, 45 fewer than last year, which contributed to the all-sources handle being down 3.2% compared to 2018. Average field size per race was also a contributing factor; it was 8.2 in 2019 compared to 8.3 last year.

Remington Park

The 2019 Remington Park Thoroughbred season concluded Dec. 15 and again experienced increases in total pari-mutuel handle for the 67-date schedule, the track announced Dec. 19.

Total handle on Remington Park racing was $76,885,108, up 7.1% compared to 2018 when the Thoroughbred season generated $71,798,190. It marked the third consecutive season the Oklahoma track’s handle increased over the previous year.

Horse racing on the decline? Not in this state, according to local industry leader

The Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) became the third group to enter the race to re-establish the sport, partnering with an investment group in pursuit of a $60 million race complex in Rowley that seeks to hold at least 60 live racing events each year, the Boston Globe reported. Other projects include a $300 million pitch from the Notos Group to develop a multi-purpose complex around a new track and a $15 million initiative from Suffolk Downs’ former owners to revitalize the Great Barrington Fairgrounds.

The three projects seeking approval will have to overcome the financial difficulties that doomed Suffolk Downs as well as sagging fan interest, participation and horse safety concerns that have plagued the sport in recent years. MTHA President Bill Lagario argues that Suffolk Downs’ issues were due to mismanagement rather than a sign of a dying industry.

“We don’t feel as though we’re coming into a market that’s dead, but we feel as though we’re coming into a market that the perception around everybody was that it was pronounced dead a long time ago,” Lagario told FOX Business. “You don’t have to go back too long ago to see 35,000 people at the Massachusetts Handicap.”

Wagering on U.S. horse racing events experienced a significant decline in recent years to roughly $11.2 billion in 2018 from $16 billion in the early 2000s, according to Equibase. A recent New York Times report that 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify failed a drug test ahead of his history-making run reignited calls for stricter, uniform standards for the treatment of horses.

Did Del Mar Just Save Horse Racing?

Editorial from the San Diego Union Tribune

…While any horse deaths are tragic — and those who see horse racing as cruel and inhumane aren’t going to change their minds — this is a credit to Del Mar officials. They had already adopted several improvements after Del Mar’s awful summer and fall racing seasons in 2016, in which 23 horses died in racing or training. This year, they took more steps, including adopting medication rules that promoted horse safety; increasing veterinary supervision and horse testing; and improving stable security.

In June, Tom Robbins, Del Mar executive vice president of racing and industry relations, told The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board, “There’s not another state that has these same rules with these changes. We’re at …

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.

68k Attend Hong Kong Racing at Sha Tin

Hong Kong horse racingPositive start to Hong Kong’s 2019/20 season

Hong Kong’s 2019/20 season opened today, Sunday, 1 September, with an enthusiastic crowd of 68,271 cheering on their sporting heroes in an atmosphere of positivity at Sha Tin racecourse.

Race goers roared loudest for 13-time champion jockey Douglas Whyte, who saddled his first winner as a trainer.

Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We know that we are in challenging times here in Hong Kong but I found it very encouraging to see the positive energy that was created at the racecourse today.

“The first-race atmosphere, the excited anticipation from the racegoers, was extremely good and the results, from a sporting point of view, were extremely pleasing: It was great to see Douglas Whyte have his first winner with only his second runner.”

The CEO was also delighted with the five successes on the day for Hong Kong’s home-grown riders, all of whom are products of the world renowned HKJC Apprentice Jockeys’ School.

“Our Hong Kong-grown talent has done extremely well today,” he said. “You can see the confidence in Vincent Ho, in how he rides, and it is encouraging for them to win five of the 10 races despite the significant increase in competition from our new arrivals, who also did well today without winning.”

Turnover was HK$1.28 billion, while the attendance was the fourth highest in the last 25 years.

“We are very pleased to see the total attendance at 68,000 – that is a positive outcome and exceeded the expectation I had,” Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges admitted.

“I was really surprised that we could hold up the attendance to this level, which is similar to the crowd we had here on the opening day in 2017. I hope this shows Hong Kong racing is strong and we hope we can continue with this positive momentum.

“The turnover was up by HK$35 million to HK$1.28 billion, and again, I have to admit that I expected it to be much lower today. Our commingling turnover has gone up from HK$158 million on this day last year to over HK$209 million. That shows the competitiveness of the overseas market.”

Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges thanked the city’s racing fans for the “tremendous support and the resilience they have shown” in a challenging situation. “We have got the first race meeting off the ground with a positive start and that emphasises the strong support we have from our fans. I would also like to thank our staff for their dedication to make this happen” he said.

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 at a Tipping Point?

It’s barely 9.30am at Santa Anita Park racetrack in Los Angeles, but Jennifer Saavedra has been at work for five hours already. Her husband, trainer Anthony, is traveling, and she’s charged with overseeing their small five-horse stable. “I’ll probably get done around six tonight,” she says. Long days are a staple of track life like water is to the Venetians. Not that Saavedra minds: horses are in her “blood,” the 53-year-old says.

“You couldn’t keep me away from the track since I could walk.”

But the intense scrutiny the sport in California has been under these past few months – a result of the 30 horses fatally injured at Santa Anita during a six-month period that’s commanded national headlines – has left Saavedra “exceedingly” worried that the existential crisis facing the racing industry could bring about an abrupt end to racing in California. Saavedra describes her involvement in the sport – a world as far removed from the office 9-to-5 as Mercury is from Neptune – as her “passion”. A way of life that’s “more than just a job”, she says.

But the intense scrutiny that horse racing in California has been under these past few months – a result of 30 horses fatally injured at Santa Anita during a six-month period – has left Saavedra “exceedingly” worried that the existential crisis facing the sport could bring an abrupt end to a world she’s been in her “whole life.”

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Churchill Downs Incorporated Reports 2019 Second Quarter Results

LOUISVILLE, Ky., July 31, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Churchill Downs Incorporated ( CHDN ) (the “Company”) today reported business results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019. Second Quarter 2019 Highlights Net revenue of $477.4 million, up 26% over the prior year quarter Net income of $107.1 million, […]

Second Quarter 2019 Highlights

  • Net revenue of $477.4 million, up 26% over the prior year quarter
  • Net income of $107.1 million, up 4% over the prior year quarter
    º Adjusted net income of $115.0 million, up 9% over the prior year quarter
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $215.0 million, up 23% over the prior year quarter
  • Successful 145th running of The Kentucky Derby, contributing to record highs for wagering and Adjusted EBITDA
  • Continued sequential growth at Derby City Gaming in Louisville, Kentucky, with strong margin performance
  • Strong performance of our Gaming properties primarily due to the performance of Rivers Casino Des Plaines in Des Plaines, Illinois and Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pennsylvania
(in millions, except per share data) 2019 2018

churchill downs ky derby daySECOND QUARTER 2019 NET INCOME

The Company’s second quarter 2019 net income of $107.1 million was comprised of $108.3 million in net income from continuing operations and $1.2 million in net loss from discontinued operations. The prior year quarter net income of $103.1 million was comprised of $103.2 million in net income from continuing operations and $0.1 million in net loss from discontinued operations.

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