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Updated on 11/06/2012 12:23PM
Breeders’ Cup handle down from 2011
By Matt Hegarty
Total commingled handle on the 15 Breeders’ Cup races held on Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita Park in Southern California dropped 9.5 percent compared with betting on the races last year, according to a chart-by-chart analysis of the race’s pools.
The total handle of $126.8 million on the six Friday races and nine Saturday races was down from handle of $140.1 million on the races last year at Churchill Downs in the Eastern time zone, according to the analysis. Betting on the six Friday races was $37.5 million, down 11.7 percent from the Friday total last year, while betting on the nine Saturday races was $89.3 million, down 8.8 percent from the Saturday races last year.
The analysis includes commingled handle figures for each pool offered in the Breeders’ Cup races, including wagering totals for any multi-leg bets that ended with a Breeders’ Cup race.
It was the second year in a row that betting on the Breeders’ Cup has declined on a year-over-year basis. Attendance also declined for the second year in a row.
Though the effects of Hurricane Sandy likely had a significant impact on the wagering, other factors seemed to be at play, including a large drop in field sizes for the five races restricted to 2-year-olds. In addition, betting on the Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races started off strongly – stronger, in fact, than betting last year – but by the time the day’s last race, the Classic, had rolled around for its first prime-time appearance, wagering on the races had fallen off precipitously compared to last year’s final slate of races.
Ken Kirchner, Breeders’ Cup’s simulcasting consultant, declined on Monday to comment on the figures in the analysis, citing his need to collect and analyze figures from Breeders’ Cup simulcasting sites. He said those figures would likely be available by Tuesday.
“It’s too early to say until we get those site-by-site numbers,” Kirchner said. “That will probably tell the story.”
In total, 162 horses ran in the 15 Breeders’ Cup races this year, compared with 173 last year, a difference of 6.3 percent. For the five juvenile races, 50 horses ran this year, compared with 64 horses last year, a difference of 22 percent. Horses competing in the juvenile races were prohibited from receiving raceday administrations of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide for the first time this year, under a policy that will be expanded to all 15 races next year pending a review of the impact of the ban on this year’s races.
Betting on the Classic was down approximately $3.6 million, from $28.1 million last year to $24.5 million this year, or 12.8 percent, according to the charts. Both races had 12-horse fields. The Classic this year went off at 8:43 p.m. Eastern, the latest the race has ever been run.
Officials for Breeders’ Cup had expected wagering to fall this year because of the vast power outages and transportation problems still plaguing many areas of the East Coast, especially in the major markets of New York and New Jersey.
Through the first two Saturday Breeders’ Cup races, the Juvenile Turf and the Filly and Mare Sprint, betting was up 12 percent compared with last year. Handle bobbed on a race-by-race basis for the next four races. The last three races, however, suffered significant declines, with 25-percent drops in betting for both the Sprint and Mile compared with the races in similar positions last year.
Handle on the $2 million pick six was $3.14 million, down slightly compared with handle of $3.37 million last year. Handle on the $2 million guaranteed pick four linking the last four races was $3.43 million, slightly better than last year’s late pick four.
Handle in the five juvenile races this year was $27.65 million, down 23 percent from the $35.89 million in betting for the five juvenile races last year. The $8.25 million decline in betting on the juvenile races was approximately 62 percent of the total decline in betting on the 15 races.
Attendance on Saturday on an ideal day in Southern California was 55,123, down 6.3 percent compared with attendance of 58,845 the last time the Breeders’ Cup was held at Santa Anita, in 2009. Attendance on Friday was 34,619, for total attendance of 89,742, down 6.9 percent compared with total attendance of 96,496 in 2009.
Last year, combined attendance for the Friday and Saturday cards at Churchill was 105,820.
The overnight rating for an NBC broadcast of the Classic running from 8 p.m. Eastern to 9 p.m. was a 2.2, according to Adam Freifeld, a spokesman for NBC, up 83 percent compared with the overnight rating for an earlier broadcast of the race last year on ESPN. The broadcast had a strong lead-in when undefeated Notre Dame staged a late comeback to tie its game with Pitt and win in overtime.
25% declines in handle for the Sprint and Mile tell the story. The later the races are run handle drops.
People who keep saying BC should be at this track or that track should be aware that those tracks have to request having the BC at their track BC only chooses from among tracks requesting No request,no BC
2010 had the Zenyatta factor The Classic was publicized and hyped over and over even on networks and print media not involved in racing This year barely any advertising even by the network broadcasting it
I was expecting handle to be down twice as much as it actually was if not more. People in the east in many cases were STILL without power (and in some cases as of this writing, STILL are from Sandy not including those who got power back, only to go down again with the nor'easter). For some, the sheer need of SURVIVAL was a much bigger priority than the BC, and many locations that normally would be packed for the BC in the northeast were virtually empty due to people either still dealing with the aftereffects of Sandy or in many cases having to wait in long lines just to find GAS, if they could find a station that was open and selling (it's to the point where there is gas rationing in New Jersey for the first time since 1979). On top of that, there was very little interest from many in the Northeast who are in many places having to play big-time catchup on things due to Sandy (and now on top of that the nor'easter). Add to that the lack of the print edition of Daily Racing Form being available and in the case of Aqueduct, the heating having to be turned off by Con Edison (per Steve Crist's Saturday DRF Blog) and you can see the problems this BC had. It is why had it been up to me, this year's Breeders' Cup would have been postponed by one week and moved to Hollywood Park. Keep in mind we have had two FREAK weather systems in as many years hit the northeast in the days leading up to the Breeders' Cup, in both cases causing people who may have set money aside to bet the Breeders' Cup to instead use that money to buy emergency supplies, batteries and so forth. In both cases, many people were without power for more than a week, and were still without power when the Breeders' Cup came around (though nowhere near as many from last year's freak snowstorm as opposed to this year with Sandy). Given NBC was very happy with the prime time rating for the BC Classic and the growing trend of sports being the only thing that does well in prime time on Saturday nights, look for NBC to insist on next year's Breeders' Cup Saturday telecast to run to 11:00 PM ET to cover all of Saturday prime time, plus likely an hour on Friday from 10:00-11:00 PM ET/7:00-8:00 PM PT. This means if that happens, either Santa Anita will have to install lights or next year's BC will have to be moved to a site capable of racing at night (and that could be what prevents Hollywood Park from closing for good ironically enough).
The breeder's cup want's movie star's at the race's, not every day bettor's who support racing all year long.Paying hundred's of $$$$ for seat's and admission is not for racing fan's.Hope the breeder's cup people kill the BC and go back to good racing like the old day's.
Was a pretty boring BC.I attribute that to the location and the coverage. I find SA racing pretty devoid of action.Too much speed bias My handle ended up being about 40% of last year,and I had a profitable weekend. The late start for the classic doesn't work,either.
I've read some of the comments and their not positive.Some changes are in order for the future of the B.C. They do charge to much for admittance,don't nickel-dime the people who support the industry.Make sure you have big fields,that's what the true handicapper wants.The biggest plus would be if it was held on Saturday and Sunday.They would defiantly see a increase in attendance and handle.Get input from horse players and make changes.
LETS TAKE A HARD LOOK: THE BEST TWO TRACKS ARE BELMONT & CHURCHILL, SANTA ANITA IS SO SO , GULFSTREAM WOULD BE IN THE MIX EXCEPT THEY DOWNSIZED IT SO THE ON-TRACK WOULD BE HARD PRESSED TO HOLD 20,000. A lot of the two year old races are not even NW2X so it really is sort of silly to put up $1 million for a 100K (at best) minor stake race. The Saturday coverage is delayed and a race lost because of a second tier football game that NBC culd have thrown over to CNBC. I was so disgusted I only bet 5 of the races over 2 days.
Why not include the Fair Grounds and Tampa in the mix? Given enough lead time, both tracks could be ready to accommodate the crowds, and TBD's turf course is already considered top notch.
As long as the Breeders Cup continues to be run in California, the handle will continue to drop. I'm on the East Coast, and i've almost lost interest in the Cup. And back we go again next year for the fourth time in the last 6 years. This year was the smallest amount i've ever bet on the Cup and i suspect it will be even less next year. And it isn't just California. The Cup itself has lost its luster by expanding to 2 days. And watch next year when they eliminate Lasix completely - small fields will dominate. This was a great idea in 1984, but the powers that be are taking it into the toilet.