05/16/2010 6:02PM

Preakness 2010 Handle


The $7.4 million decline in Preakness Day betting from last year was almost entirely due to a sharp dropoff in straight, exacta and trifecta betting on the Preakness itself on a day when handle was virtually even with last year's through the day's first 11 races.

As the table below illustrates, nearly $7 million of the $7.4 million dropoff came from intrarace betting on the Preakness: declines of $2.98 million in win-place-show betting (from $23.08 million to $20.10), a $1.5 million decline in exacta betting (from $13.26 to $11.73 million), and a $2.5 million decline in trifecta betting (from $16.43 to $13.94 million.)

The rest of the day's decline of just over $500,000 was entirely attributable to the day's last race, right after the Preakness, where there was only a five-horse field and intrarace pools were off 34 to 73 percent from a year ago.

Betting was up 10 percent after the day's first six races. Pools were all over the map after that -- down on the Schaefer and Gallorette, then up on the Maryland Sprint and the Dixie -- but the total after 11 races was off by less than 1 percent.

It seems that the decline, especially after a 4 percent jump in Derby betting two weeks ago, speaks less to any industry trends than to the appeal of the main event. Clearly, last year's Preakness, with Rachel Alexandra taking on the 1-2-3 Derby finishers, piqued betting interest more than this year's edition.

(Note: Pimlico reports slightly different handle totals than these, but they do not materially affect the comparisons. Pimlico's totals for both years are $2.3 million higher because they include non-commingled wagers, multi-day bets, and wager fees paid by other entities to come up with a total of $79.2 million vs. 86.6 million last year -- the same $7.4 million decline as in my commingled-only totals of $76.9 vs. $84.3 million.)