11/02/2012 9:28PM

Breeders' Cup: Wagering on Friday card down five percent


Total commingled handle for the 10 races at Santa Anita on Friday, including six Breeders' Cup races, was down 5 percent compared with the Friday card at Churchill Downs last year, according to figures released by Breeders' Cup.

The decline, from $50.05 million last year to $47.58 million this year, was the second consecutive drop in handle for the Friday card, which was added when Breeders' Cup expanded to 11 races in 2007. Since then, the number of Breeders' Cup races has increased to 15, with six on Friday and nine on Saturday.

The decline was likely due to a confluence of factors, including several short fields in the six Breeders' Cup races and the problems facing residents of the Northeast seaboard, which remains reeling from electrical outages, transportation problems, and gas shortages brought on by the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy earlier this week.

In the six Breeders' Cup races on Friday this year, 59 horses competed, including the five horses that contested the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, the smallest field that has ever competed in a Breeders' Cup race. Last year, 69 horses competed in the six Breeders' Cup races on Friday.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Friday results and video replays]

Given those factors, Breeders' Cup officials said they were pleased with the overall result. Officials said prior to the event that they expected handle to decline based on the effects of Hurricane Sandy alone.

"Considering the effects of Hurricane Sandy and difficult circumstances for much of the East Coast, to be within 5 percent of last year's total handle is a success," said Ken Krichner, Breeders' Cup's senior wagering consultant.

Attendance at Santa Anita Park also declined compared with the last time the event was held at the Southern California track, in 2009. The Friday attendance this year was 34,619, compared with 37,651 in 2009. Attendance at Santa Anita in 2008 for the Friday Breeders' Cup card was 31,257.

Total handle on the pick six, which was hit by one ticketholder, was $1.45 million, compared with $1.46 million last year. The winning ticket paid $773,865.20. Only two tickets were live going into the last leg, the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.