11/03/2012 10:30PM

Breeders' Cup: Saturday wagering dips 8.8 percent from a year ago

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Total commingled handle on the nine Breeders’ Cup races Saturday at Santa Anita Park dropped 8.8 percent compared with last year's event at Churchill Downs, according to a chart-by-chart analysis of the races.

Coupled with an 11.7 percent decline in betting on the six Friday races, total commingled betting for the 15 Breeders’ Cup races held at Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday was down 9.5 percent, from $140.1 million last year to $126.8 million this year. It was the second year in a row that betting on the Breeders’ Cup has declined on a year-over-year basis.

Though the effects of Hurricane Sandy likely had a significant impact on the wagering, other factors also seemed to be at play. Betting at the start of the day was strong – 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 had fallen off.

Field size, for the most part, was comparable to last year, with 103 runners competing in the nine Saturday races compared with 104 runners last year. Four favorites won in the nine Saturday races. Although prohibitive favorites can depress betting on single races, winning favorites tend to increase churn by distributing winnings among a larger number of players and by keeping bankrolls above water.

Total wagering for the nine Saturday races was $89,270,811, according to the charts, compared with total betting last year on nine Breeders’ Cup races of $97,936,517, a difference of 8.8 percent. Betting on the Classic was down approximately $3.6 million, from $28.1 million last year to $24.5 million this year, a drop of 12.1 percent, according to the charts. The Classic went off at 8:43 p.m. Eastern, the latest the race has ever been run.

Attendance on Saturday on an ideal day in Southern California was 55,123, down 6.3 percent compared with 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.

Officials for Breeders’ Cup had expected wagering to fall this year because of the power outages and transportation problems still plaguing many areas of the Northeast, especially in the major markets of New York and New Jersey. It is likely that a nearly 10 percent drop was within their expectations.

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, in part because of differences between the two cards as to when multi-leg bets started and ended. However, the last three races 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 4 linking the last four races was $3.43 million, slightly better than last year’s late pick 4.

This year’s event was the first in which Breeders’ Cup prohibited the raceday use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide before its five 2-year-old races. Fifty horses ran in the five juvenile races this year – including the smallest field ever in a Breeders’ Cup race, the five-horse Juvenile Sprint on Friday – compared with 64 in the five races last year, a drop of 21 percent. 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.

Under a policy Breeders’ Cup adopted two years ago, raceday use of furosemide will be prohibited for all 15 races next year. However, Breeders’ Cup officials have said that they would be monitoring the results from this year’s Breeders’ Cup in case the policy needed to be reviewed.

Leslie Burke Fernandes More than 1 year ago
it's so simple, handle declined because the public now has to pay to see the races on television, thus no one cares. if they want to increase public interest, put the races back on network television.
Frank More than 1 year ago
As far as the weather you cant beat California for the Breeders Cup -- But as fair as having a fair race track -- I dont like any CA track. Belmont Park is the best track for the Breeders Cup (and Churchhill is not bad either) but the weather there can be real nasty that time of year.
Nate More than 1 year ago
Not even a story anywhere on the site about why the Daily Racing Form wasn't printed or distributed all week. No explanation. No nothing. As if it never even happened. Bettors are expected to play without the Daily Racing Form? Don't think that impacted betting? Bad job DRF. Bad job all around.
Nate More than 1 year ago
Wow - no mention of the fact that the friggin Daily Racing Form couldn't be purchased anywhere all week!
Frank More than 1 year ago
Yea agree. I'm an IT guy and I think DRF needs to fire thier entire IT team and hire new ones. Obviously, they have some off the worst computer guys on the planet running and managing there site. Pathetic is more like it being down all week.
Sal Carcia More than 1 year ago
The fact that the Saturday card ran so late, I decided to watch the whole card at home. I have always gone to a track with my friends to watch it. One of my friends had a previous committment for dinner. It didn't work out so well for me at home as my grandchildren took over my TV room and forced me to watch Michael Myers' clips on the internet. They were very annoyed at the interruption of the BC Classic. It's odd how the betting tailed off at the end. The Classic was a great betting race with a large field.
David Smith More than 1 year ago
breeders should be at churchill every year...lot of east coast money was not bet..last year was one of the best betting cards ever also...
Maria Kern More than 1 year ago
Hey, there is thousands of horse racing fans here in California who love to see the Breeders’ Cup races in person. You expect us to travel east (Kentucky or New York) every year to attend the venue. What a narrow minded and bias opinion. Altering the location for the Breeders' Cup is the fair way.
Ben van den Brink More than 1 year ago
Bring the BC back to churchill, the best for both, east and west
Jerry Sabo More than 1 year ago
Or Gulfstream
robert bertz More than 1 year ago
No seating at Gulfstream. Less than 1000 seats!
Mick More than 1 year ago
Maybe if they find a way to actually allow general admission onto the apron to actually let people see the races in front of them, like Santa Anita, then maybe. Otherwise, no.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
The fact handle was only down a little less than nine percent is remarkable given what everyone in the east is still dealing with. If it had been up to me, once we knew how big Sandy was going to be I would have been in discussions with Santa Anita and Hollywood Park about a one-week postponement of the Breeders. Aside from the major hit in handle that BC Ltd. did that that in all honesty I thought was going to be MUCH bigger (possibly as much as 40 percent off of two years ago), there was the issue of how appropriate it was to have a major event like the Breeders' Cup taking place days after a catastrophic storm like Sandy that devastated many on the east coast even though the event was taking place on the west coast. If it had been my call, this Breeders' Cup would have been rescheduled for next weekend at Hollywood Park, taking the wrath from people who were planning to be at Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup and also taking the wrath from trainers who were getting their horses ready and had shipped or were about to for the BC and would have to endure an additional week on the west coast. I would have tried to find a way to make it up to Santa Anita in the future, explaining to them this had to do with how it would look to people on the east coast who are and will continue to be dealing with major problems from what happened to Sandy, images many have seen while others in New York and the surrounding areas have seen up close and personal. The handle only being down 8.8 percent for Saturday and five percent for Friday in spite of every obstacle Breeders' Cup, Ltd. has to deal with this year (aside from the obvious damages many had) is something I had never expected. Given how many people in the past week have had to live without power for almost a week and in many cases STILL are living without power, having to spend money on emergency expenses due to preparing and/or dealing with the aftermath of Sandy that otherwise would have gone to betting, the Daily Racing Form main site being down for 2 1/2 days due to flooding, DRF being unable to get the print edition available due to lack of power in many areas and so many other factors, I think Breeders' Cup, Ltd. can breathe a major sigh of relief the handle was not down further than it actually was given everything.
Paul Ferg More than 1 year ago
Out of beer by mid card, long lineups for food and beverages. You would think that after hosting this event numerous times in the past they would have learned by now. It is still the best venue but many missed opportunities.......
Gerardo Helguera More than 1 year ago
Santa Anita the best racetrack in America! These numbers will go up next year so no need to panic people.
Platano Lajara More than 1 year ago
no isnt best track CD and Belmont more crowds more money and larger fields in the breederscup am tired seeing BC run in SA bring it to the City that neva sleep BEL NY
Gerardo Helguera More than 1 year ago
Lol, Santa Anita is 1 of a kind! Best of the Best!
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Belmont Park doesn't draw huge crowds for the BC. For Belmont Stakes day, yes. But for a Breeder's Cup, Belmont doesn't draw any bigger crowds than Santa Anita. And since the Belmont facility is so large, it feels like less people, with less buzz(also it can be cooler, leading people to stay inside the facility or seated under blankets/jackets. In terms of attendance and local interest in the Breeder's Cup, Churchill stands alone. When the Breeder's Cup is at Churchill, it is THE big event happening in Louisville. The morning of the races you wake aup nd turn on the tv and find most of the local networks either filming live at Churchill, or discussing where to park, directions, post times, what to wear in terms of weather, etc. There's no place else in North America that embraces and celebrates the sport of thoroughbred racing like Kentucky. With a breeding industry among the most important industries in the state's economy, thoroughbred racing affects the lives of many Kentuckians, and thus they are the most racing literate population on the continent. In addition, Churchill is used to handling crowds of up to 150,000, and is even used to handling back-to-back days in which the crowd is 100,000 for both days(Oaks and Derby days). So, 75-80,000 is a breeze. What separates Santa Anita from Belmont and brings it closer to Churchill is location and weather. For those coming from out of town, Los Angeles is a more attractive destination than Louisville. As for weather, in LA late October/early November is almost always dry and warm/moderate. The temperature at Belmont or Churchill this time a year isn't that cold, usually somewhere in the 50s, but it sure doesn't feel like the 72 degree weather Santa Anita had on Friday. And then there can be rain and wind mixed with the temps in the 50s, causing inconvenience to fans and significantly affecting the condition of the racing surfaces. If I was running the Breeder's Cup, I would keep the 2 year cycle(tracks hosting back-to-back BCs) because it promotes winners coming back to repeat. I would also rotate it between Santa Anita and Churchill. Every firth year, however, I would move it to places like Belmont, Monmouth, Gulfstream, Arlington, Woodbine, Lone Star, and Oaklawn(if it wants it during its off-season)
philcaccamise More than 1 year ago
Oaklawn is a great place but has no turf course. Can't host the Breeders Cup. Don't think they'll ever do a polytrack BC again so Woodbine and Arlington are out.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Oaklawn would install a turf course of the BC. They have had 80,000+ for the Arkansas Derby in the past and would likely have 60,000+ for both days if it were there. Plus, temperatures are warmer, but not potentially overly hot in November.