Breeders’ Cup Registers Sixth-Highest Handle in Two-day History

Breeders CupTotal all-sources handle for the two-day Breeders’ Cup Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland was $160,472,894, the sixth-highest total since the Breeders’ Cup expanded to a two-day event in 2007 and an 8% decrease from the 2019 record handle of $174,000,574 at Santa Anita Park.

Breeders’ Cup did not report attendance figures this year at Keeneland with no paid spectators allowed as a COVID-19 safety precaution. Owners and their guests, breeders, participating horsemen, and media were allowed to attend—a group that perhaps numbered in the low thousands.

Despite a sharply reduced crowd, this year’s total handle represented a 7% increase from the 2015 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland…

An unlikely comeback for horse racing?

Longtime race horse owner Armand Janjigian knows all about calculating the odds, but he still wants to rescue the state’s thoroughbred racing industry, even if it’s a long shot.

The business consultant and owner of the Kingsbury health clubs in Medfield and Kingston just turned 86. But he’s not ready to ride into the sunset.

Instead, he is plotting an unlikely comeback for thoroughbreds [in Massachusetts]. Janjigian is piecing together more than 300 acres near Interstate 84 in Sturbridge to build a new racetrack. He’s lining up investors for the $25 million-plus project. And he is working with town officials to rewrite the zoning rules to allow racing, and the gambling that would go along with it…

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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Maryland Racing Industry at Crossroads

Total wagering on the rescheduled, closed-door Preakness Stakes program at Pimlico last Saturday was down nearly 50% from its 2019 renewal, a pandemic-impacted decline similar to that experienced at the Kentucky Derby, which was moved from May to September.

Even in pre-pandemic times, a majority of wagering on horse racing is conducted online, through legal betting platforms like BetPTC.com, TwinSpires, TVG and Xpressbet. Since March, almost all wagering comes via these channels. Betting in person has grown increasingly rare in the internet era, and even more so in 2020. For perspective, of the $369 million bet on races at Laurel Park in 2019, the Maryland Racing Commission’s annual report records that $350.2 million, nearly 95%, came from bettors outside of Maryland…

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:

Horse racing handle up 176% per day in April

Is Horse Racing Dead?

When the economic indicators on thoroughbred racing were released by Equibase this week, there was one number that leapt off the page. Average wagering per day was up 176% this month when compared to last April.

Yes, in a month where there were virtually no American sporting events, horse racing was front-and-center and the tracks that didn’t close, like Gulfstream and Oaklawn, did an average of $7.5 million in handle, up from $2.7 million this time last year.

Total wagering, which includes the numbers from all the tracks that are closed due to the pandemic, was down 24.4% year over year, but considering that race days were down 72% and some of April’s biggest races were canceled, it’s an incredible win for horse racing.

“It was similar to the 20s and 30s, when horse racing was the only game in town,” said New York Racing Association chief revenue officer Tony Allevato. NYRA canceled its horse races, but it has had a steady stream of business thanks to New Yorkers betting through …

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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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.

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.