11/01/2013 9:10PM

Breeders' Cup betting hits $34.9 million on Friday


Handle for the five Breeders’ Cup races held on Friday at Santa Anita was $34.9 million, according to charts of the races, compared to handle of $37.5 million on six Breeders’ Cup races held on the Friday card last year.

The result this year stacks up evenly with the Friday card last year if wagering on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint Stakes – since dropped entirely from the Breeders’ Cup lineup – is omitted from the total from last year’s Friday card. In that comparison, handle on five Breeders’ Cup races this year was marginally up from the wagering on the five races other than the Juvenile Sprint last year, at $34.9 million compared to $34.8 million.

[BREEDERS' CUP FRIDAY: Video replays and race results]

In addition, the average handle for the five Breeders’ Cup races on this year’s Friday card was $6.98 million, while average handle for the six races last year was $6.25 million.

Comparisons of the two Friday cards are complicated by other factors as well. For one, some of the races held on the Friday card this year were different from the races held on last year’s Friday card, and in a different order, with the exception of the Distaff, which remained as the last Breeders’ Cup race of the day.

In addition, many handicappers began noting that the track at Santa Anita appeared to be significantly speed biased well before the Breeders’ Cup slate began, a perception that may have impacted some bettors, both positively and negatively. Some bettors dislike betting on biased tracks while others try to capitalize on a strong opinion on how the condition of the track will move certain runners up.

Last year, handle on the 15 Breeders’ Cup races held on Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita was down nearly 10 percent, a sharp drop that was blamed on the aftereffects of Superstorm Sandy, which had hit the East Coast a week earlier, devastating some communities. Because of that impact, it was believed that handle numbers might rebound this year. Handle overall on U.S. racing is slightly up for the year.

Attendance on a sunny, warm day at Santa Anita was 35,833, Breeders’ Cup said, slightly up over last year’s announced attendance of 34,619.

Average field size in the five Breeders’ Cup Friday races this year was 10.8, a full horse better than the average field size of 9.8 horses in the six Friday races last year. The Distaff, the highest-handling race of the day at $10.1 million, had a field of six this year, compared to a field of eight last year, with handle dropping 3.8 percent on the race. (Pick six and pick four handles are included in the comparison because the sequences ended in the Distaff.)

Handle on the $2 minimum pick six on the Friday card fell short of the $1 million guarantee for the pool, at $891,012, down 38 percent from last year’s pick six handle. Last year, every race in the pick six was a Breeders’ Cup race, whereas this year, the pick six included an overnight stakes preceding the Breeders’ Cup slate. Handle on the late pick four, which had a $1 minimum and $1.5 million guarantee, was $2,693,116, up 41 percent compared to last year’s Friday pick four.

A 50-cent minimum pick five that ended just prior to the Breeders’ Cup slate was not hit, and a pool of $891,813 will carry over into the Saturday card, which features nine Breeders’ Cup races. The pick five in California has a 14 percent takeout, compared to a takeout of 23.68 percent on the pick three, pick four, and pick six.