11/04/2017 10:21PM

Breeders' Cup handle highest since 2013


Betting on the 13 Breeders’ Cup races held at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif., on Friday and Saturday was up 5.7 percent compared with last year and was the highest total since the 2013 event, according to charts of the races.

Total betting on the 13 races, including all wagers made on horizontal bets ending in a Breeders’ Cup race, was $135.46 million, just shy of the $135.52 million bet on the 13 races in 2013. Betting on the Classic was down 1 percent, largely because the pick six ending in the race this year drew $1 million less in wagers. Last year’s Saturday pick six had a $511,000 carryover.

There were 158 total runners in the 13 races this year, compared with 150 runners in the races last year.

Betting was strong throughout Saturday, building on the 3.2 percent jump in betting on the four races on Friday this year. Betting on horizontal wagers was particularly strong, perhaps nudged by recent tax changes that favored the types of bets in which players make large investments seeking big scores, such as the pick four, pick five, and pick six.

The races this year were held at roughly the same time as the races last year, with the first Breeders’ Cup race going off on Saturday at 3:01 Eastern, or just after noon local time. The Classic went off at 8:46 Eastern, deep into prime time.

Betting remained strong on Saturday as the day wore on despite a string of high-priced horses early in the card, a result that can sometimes reduce handle by sapping players’ bankrolls. The winners of the first eight Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday, in order, paid $36.60, $62.40, $135.40, $24.40, $11.80, $7.40, $25, and $30.20. The string was capped by Gun Runner at $6.80 in the Classic.

This was the second year in a row that betting on the Breeders’ Cup races rose. In 2015, when the event was held at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky., total betting was $125.9 million. The total rose last year to $128.1 million, an increase of 1.7 percent.

Del Mar announced attendance of 37,692, slightly higher than the 37,500 cap that was set by the track. It was unclear why the attendance was higher than the cap, but tracks often count officials and members of the press in the attendance figures. Last year, the announced Saturday attendance was 72,811, without a cap.

Betting on the late pick four on Saturday was $5.16 million, up 12.7 percent over the late pick four last year. The pick four handle was the largest of any horizontal bet of the day, and it was more than $2 million higher than the pick six handle of $2.99 million. The pick six paid $388,423.60.

For the entire 12-race card on Saturday, total wagering was $113.8 million, a 6 percent increase over the Saturday total last year, according to Del Mar. On-track wagering for both days was $25.2 million, a 21.4 percent increase over on-track wagering last year, Del Mar said, with Saturday’s on-track wagering coming in at $16 .0million, the highest since 2006, when the Breeders’ Cup was a one-day event.