Updated on 11/05/2014 1:02PM

Breeders’ Cup handle down, but attendance and TV rating up

Susie Raisher
Total attendance for the two Breeders' Cup cards was 98,319, up 3.9 percent compared to total attendance last year.

Preliminary all-sources handle on the 13 Breeders’ Cup races held this year at Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday was $127.8 million, according to charts of the races, down 5.7 percent compared with betting last year of $135.5 million on 14 races, when the betting figures were juiced by a carryover in the pick five.

The decline ended up being a decent showing for the Breeders’ Cup card considering there was one fewer Breeders’ Cup race this year and that the carryover last year accounted for $5 million in additional handle on the pick five, a popular 50-cent minimum bet in California. Subtracting out the handle on the discontinued Marathon from last year and the additional carryover money, handle this year would have been up just slightly.

The $127.8 million total also compares favorably with handle of $126.8 million on the 15 races of the 2012 event, also held at Santa Anita. However, that 2012 figure was down 9.5 percent compared with the 2011 handle total. Betting in 2012 was also negatively impacted by the aftereffects of Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast.

This year’s event ended a three-year run at Santa Anita, favored by many members of the Breeders’ Cup board for its predictably warm weather. The Breeders’ Cup is scheduled next year to be held for the first time at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., followed again by Santa Anita, and then Del Mar outside San Diego.

Attendance on Saturday, when nine Breeders’ Cup races were held, was 61,114, according to Breeders’ Cup, up 3.9 percent compared to attendance of 58,795 last year. Weather in Southern California on Saturday started out rainy and overcast, though conditions gradually improved throughout the day.

With attendance of 37,205 for the Friday card for four Breeders’ Cup races, total attendance for the two cards was 98,319, up 3.9 percent compared to total attendance last year. It was the highest two-day total for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, where the event has been held five times since 2008 under the two-day format.

Handle on this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was especially strong, up 15.3 percent, according to the charts, perhaps because of the continuing attraction of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome on his home turf. Though discounted by many serious handicappers, California Chrome was the co-second choice in the Classic at 4-1, driving a 27 percent gain in the win, place, and show pools in the Classic compared with last year. Exacta betting in the race was up 19 percent, trifecta betting was up 29 percent, and superfecta betting was up 33 percent, leading to a 26 percent gain in all pools in the race that were not linked to other races.

The presence of California Chrome, who had raced only one other time since losing the Belmont Stakes in mid-June, also appeared to benefit the television ratings for the prime-time broadcast of the Classic, which began at 8 p.m. Eastern and went 10 minutes over its one-hour time slot in order to sort out an inquiry involving the race winner, Bayern. According to NBC, the overnight rating for the Classic broadcast was a 1.8, up 25 percent compared with the overnight rating last year.

As far as wagering was concerned, the day did not start well, with betting on many of the early races down significantly, some by double digits. Betting picked up later in the afternoon, however, as the Breeders’ Cup event meandered into prime time on a Saturday fouled by poor weather on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Betting on the two races prior to the Classic, the Sprint and the Mile, was up 12.2 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, according to the charts. Betting on the Mile was helped by the absence of Wise Dan, who had been a heavy favorite in the race for the past two years.

A $2.5 million-guaranteed pick six on Saturday just barely failed to reach the minimum, at approximately $2.42 million, according to the last data displayed on a tote feed. No one had six correct, leading to a $1.3 million carryover into Sunday with a mandatory payout.

A previous version of this atricle incorrectly stated there were 14 Breeders' Cup races held in 2012. There were 15 Breeders' Cup races held in 2012. Also, Zenyatta competed in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, not the 2011 running.

Donald More than 1 year ago
Never mind the TV fiasco,the actions of those involved in the decision (no DQ) in the classic has forever changed my view of the BC as a class event.That was a joke.As for attendance ,my spies tell me there were parking lots half empty,but they managed to parade out the the LA wine and cheese foo foo crowd to impress no one.
John More than 1 year ago
Has anyone at TVG grown a set of "juevos " of late ?(Paulie, Geno, Sarge ?) Promoting Breeders Cup for 3 months prior to the race, NOT ONCE saying , "and oh, by the way, we cant telecast the races those two days " And people wonder why racing is dying ! I was prepared to play about $2000 over the two days of racing but once I found out , no TVG, I played $150 on the Classic and at least saw the race . Hey TVG, I wonder how many others kept their money in their pockets after no TVG > Why cant Andrew Beyers write about this fiasco ?
mikey More than 1 year ago
TVG will have it next year.I would give 2000 bucks not to listen to that cast of dead heads.They are sooooo bad it hurts.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Totally agree. The casual fan couldn't care less about being on NBC Saturday .. Who is watching horse racing unless you're a bettor. How can't this be on TVG
Brandon Kupcinet More than 1 year ago
Hrtv has the rights to show the Breeders Cup and at least NBC shows 1080p HD
John More than 1 year ago
Can anyone tell me how, why or what happened that TVG, the so called Horse Racing Network wasnt allowed to broadcast the Breeders Cup. Am I missing something here ? WHO took the steps to keep the biggest 2 days of racing away from the fans, the real fans, the bettors ! I dont see any complaints from the DRF writters , dare I say "kick back " say it say it !
mikey More than 1 year ago
Next year TVG has the rights to KEENLAND.Enjoy your day with those clowns.TVG is the GONG show with horses.
Diedrich Buesing More than 1 year ago
"However, that 2012 figure was down 9.5 percent compared with the 2011 handle total, when the event was at Churchill Downs, and the most popular horse in two decades, Zenyatta, ran in the Classic.".......................Z didnt run in 2011. did she?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finally it appears i have got thru to many of you, that horse racing is a fixed betting pool manipulated scam. And that is being kind. These betting numbers presented are also lies. Dont believe any of it.
Gregg Rose More than 1 year ago
You haven't 'gotten thru" to anybody who has a brain, miserable little troll, the only "liar" commenting is you. IF YOU DON'T like horse racing don't watch it, but don't bore others with your, stupid, baseless remarks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shut up you broke idiot.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
You sound like a sad person. On the other hand if you ever presented factual evidence, quotes from prosecutors or investigating agencies you would then start to be credible.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
This is why starting in 2016, I would not be surprised if Comcast, the parent company of NBC demands that lights be installed at whatever track hosts the Breeders Cup. Comcast actually late as next August can force Keeneland to install at least temporary lights for the 2015 BC as well, but is only not likely to force Keeneland to install lights due to next year's BC being on the dates of Games 3 & 4 of the World Series. Comcast likely won't insist on next year's BC Classic (and more) being in prime time because they don't want to upset MLB by airing the BC opposite World Series games due to Comcast holding local rights to about a third of the teams on the various incarnations of Comcast SportsNet (including the Mets on SportsNet New York and the Phillies on CSN Philly). After next year, however, Comcast could come back and tell Santa Anita and Del Mar they have to install lights if Comcast wants the BC telecasts to run to 11:00 PM ET and there is little Santa Anita or Del Mar can do about it. as networks more than ever dictate when sporting events take place. CBS set that precedent in November 2011 when CBS insisted on an LSU-Alabama football game being moved from a 3:30 to an 8:00 PM ET kickoff (even though that was a violation of their deal with the Southeastern Conference). That precedent was reaffirmed this year as even though contract language from what I understand specifically forbids it, The Big 10 was apparently forced by Disney to end its longtime ban of schools playing November night football games at home so ABC and ESPN can air such games (Ohio State hosted Illinois in an 8:00 PM ET kickoff this past Saturday and is at Michigan State for an 8:00 PM ET kickoff this Saturday in the first-ever November night home football games in Big 10 history, both of which were/are on ABC). Unless you are Augusta National (willing to take far less money than they could for coverage of The Masters) or the NFL (the 800-pound gorilla of sports that usually gets their way on everything), you are at the mercy of the networks with regards to scheduling as proven this year by the Big 10 having to let Disney have games involving their schools in prime time in November. It's something the tracks and Breeders' Cup, Ltd,. must realize for the future and bettors are going to have to adjust to the demands of television. As for handle, it mainly showed that the big Pick Five carryover last year masked the fact that many people in the northeast had STILL NOT COME EVEN CLOSE to recovering from Superstorm Sandy, which had devastated the east coast in the week before the 2012 Breeders' Cup. Per-race handle this year was actually even or up slightly even with one fewer race than a year ago and especially taking out the money wagered on the Pick Five due to that carryover last year, and more importantly showed considerable rises as we went into the evening as I understand it, something that I think may tell Comcast/NBC it will be time in 2016 (when the BC won't have the conflict it will next year with the World Series) to have at least the Saturday Breeders' Cup telecast run to 11:00 PM Eastern Time and force Santa Anita and Del Mar to install lights for those Breeders' Cups or lose those to tracks capable of racing at night and beginning in 2018, making lights a requirement to host the BC. This could wind up happening even without Comcast/NBC as the potential for hundreds of millions in new handle from the Asia-Pacific region (where it would be Saturday morning/early afternoon for Friday night BC races and Sunday morning/early afternoon for Saturday night BC races) likely forces such a move anyway, at least in my opinion.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Walt, You seem pretty wired in the TV network biz, I'm looking for an ad sales gig. Lots of experience. Let me know
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
I just follow it enough to know what's going on. Sorry.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
You present a lot of interesting info the problem is that except for the Derby (and once in a while the Belmont) ratings on horse racing pale in comparison to other sports Especially major college football games and this past weekend a "no contest" RUGBY contest (yes rugby) that sold out Soldier's Field with New Zealand routing the US team. Just point out how much ground racing needs to make up to close the gap on a regular basis.
Ed Gredvig More than 1 year ago
So to make the same in attendance income at Keenland BC will have to double the price of the tickets. I guess everything will have to be doubled for BC to break even with Santa Anita. Enjoy you $20 beer.
riddick More than 1 year ago
How did Lukas horse even get in the $2,000,000 race? 1 win in 5 starts. wins at 60-1. I almost quit the game , I did go home after making my bets for the last 4 races. Tossed the book out , Switched to the fastest horses at the first call and used the lesser regarded Euros and made my comeback. I thought Bayern was a lock on that track. I'm starting to get used to it in California
Bil Wil More than 1 year ago
Here's a lil tip..2YR OLDS are unpredictable. PS: If you used the SPEED & EUROS you would've LOST clown..who you kidding??
riddick More than 1 year ago
The last 4 races were awesome why? because I finally started making money. Get rid of the kiddie races.
Bil Wil More than 1 year ago
So only allow races that you can win on?? That's sounds about right... Could'nt possibly be YOUR HANDICAPPING.
Joseph Alesia More than 1 year ago
why don't they call it the California breeders cup I thought this was suppose 2 be moved around the country east coast outfits and the euros should boycott leave 2 the suits 2 screw it up
mikey More than 1 year ago
No one wants it.The BC is a money black ho;e for the home track.The only one making money is the fat cats at the BC. They make big money to work a few weeks a year.Makes Madoff look like a saint.
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Most of the European trainers prefer Santa Anita over Churchill. Aiden O'Brien has said that you know what to expect in Cal as far as the weather and the condition of the turf course.