12/03/2013 12:39PM

Churchill daily average handle down 28 percent from 2012 fall meet

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Daily average handle from all sources was down more than 15 percent at the Churchill Downs fall meet that ended Saturday, according to information provided by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

All-sources handle grossed $117,642,653 at the 25-day meet, which was barely more than the $116,697,792 at the comparable 2012 fall meet, when only 21 days of racing were held.

The daily average this fall was $4,705,706, a reduction of 15.3 percent from the average of $5,557,038 last fall.

Ontrack handle this fall was down even more, averaging just $421,427 per card, a decrease of almost 28 percent from 2012, when the average was $582,478.

One particularly poor date this fall was Oct. 31, when inclement weather limited ontrack handle to a mere $177,806, believed to be the lowest figure in decades, according to a Churchill official requesting anonymity.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission does not require tracks to provide them with attendance figures.

For years, tracks owned by Churchill Downs Inc. have not released attendance and handle figures except for major race days. Churchill releases some other business information at its own discretion and did so in regard to purse levels and field size for this latest meet.

In a media release Monday, Churchill reported that gross purse payouts this fall were $8,222,029, down from $8,894,694 paid during the comparable 21-day fall meet in 2012. The per-day purse average of $328,881 this fall meant a decline of 22 percent from the $423,557 averaged last fall.

Field size averaged 8.84, down from 9.56 in 2012.

Churchill racetrack president Kevin Flanery said in a prepared statement: “Along with ongoing competition from casinos in our market that have been part of the scene now for 15 years, competition for both horses and wagering dollars from racetracks that benefit from casino and gaming revenues continues to intensify.

“Those tracks are luring stables and horses from our Kentucky market and Churchill Downs meets, which puts pressure on our efforts to maintain large and competitive fields of horses. That competitive pressure was exacerbated this fall when we encountered unusually wet and cool weather that cost us several days of turf racing, which made it more difficult to maintain large and attractive field sizes.”

Churchill added a 12-day September meet for the first time this year, with all-sources handle grossing almost $46.3 million for a daily average of $3,857,160. Average ontrack handle during that meet was $418,354.

Churchill will have three meets (spring, September, and fall) again in 2014. The 140th Kentucky Derby will be run May 3.

Matt Harper 11 months ago
If anyone will care to look at the CDI's profile on yahoo stock market watch you will see the business model. It isn't horse racing.
Greg 11 months ago
I started watching horse racing in 2006 , because of TVG & HRTV, an at that time I watched mostly Churchill downs. Rafeal Bejarano was the man an he won alot. It hooked me. 7 yrs later now I can count on one hand how many days I placed a wager there. Low purses not up to par with NY and surrounding states will kill off the quality at Churchill which it already has. If Kentucky doesnt get slots at the track, kiss it good bye baby!!!!
Jack Lee 11 months ago
As a horseplayer why do you care that Churchill's purses are not up to par with NY?
rahman Williams 11 months ago
As a horse player who Primary plays Msw and Stakes, the bigger the purse better the horses, jockeys and trainers. I don't play ghetto tracks with full fields I like Quality not Quantity I don't bet Evangeline Downs claiming races. Take out is not the only topic hurting this sport. A track with this much history, with the most prestigious race, has only one excellent Card a year.
rahman Williams 11 months ago
Fort Larned ran in 175k race. Purses are so low, why would anybody travel there outside of derby.
Jack Lee 11 months ago
I don't even look at the purse size when I'm betting. I look at takeout and field size.
Mike Reinhardt 11 months ago
He is asking a rhetorical question about the type of horses running at Churchill, and why anyone would ship in. And if all you care about is field size, what do you think of the drop from 9.56 to 8.84?
Jack Lee 11 months ago
I hope your eyes aren't bothering you because clearly field size is not ALL I care about. See above.
rahman Williams 11 months ago
Thank you Mike, for understanding my Post. Big purses bring in better Quality of Horses from Cali and NY and improves handle.
John Stevelberg 11 months ago
So Marty - all in all it was a pretty lousy meet. You might have said that in paragraph one and used the numbers to support that statement. We call it JOURNALISM !
Mike Reinhardt 11 months ago
That's funny, I always thought reporting the facts and allowing us to form our own opinion was good journalism. If you want your opinion made for you, watch fox news or msnbc.
reachin 11 months ago
trainers giving needles, vets doing their own thing, jocks not riding to win and the worst of all is the pari-mutuel pools are tampered with by tote insider.
Ray Sousa 11 months ago
Lets face it there's too much low quality racing and too little oversight. the result is no interest by regular people and less interest by the hard core..looks to me that the strategy racing is employing is to try and hang on to the hard core degenerate who would bet on gerbils if there was a gerbil track simulcasting from somewhere...its not that hard to have a vibrant racing scene.actually its quite easy 1-make the facility's decent and dont fleece the customer by charging too much for everything..2- make every effort to ensure that the races are conducted honestly don't condone bad ridding and miracle needle training..3- make racing more palatable to younger people by promoting the great horses and by not allowing abuse like excessive drugs to numb pain that lead to break downs and excessive whipping.change the whip to a lighter version or explain to the public that its not cruel to the animal...4-make an effort to explain handicapping to beginners and have enough security on the premises so that they don't feel intimidated by the degenerates..5-don't promote impossible bets like super high 5 or pick 6 .most people will never hit one of those and will simply go broke trying.its not conducive to having fans return.much better to promote win and exacta double and have them win a couple of bets and feel like they can win...6-on big race days have posters made with a small picture of each horse in the field or even the horses nominated to the race and place them on the track in local businesses and give them out to fans.all you need is the picture the breeding race record in small type and the connections..they used to do this in south africa and australia for their biggest race and people would become very familiar with the horses and then have a bet.kids would sometimes steal the posters and cut out the pictures of the horses and then watch to see if their favorites won and show other kids.with todays technology it could be done on the cheap and even replicated on line....the sooner they get away from comparing horse racing to casinos and the lottery trying to turn tracks into night clubs the better it will be for the industry.its about the horse try to remember that.
a a 11 months ago
Every single one of your ideas is nothing.
Philip Conforti 11 months ago
Agreed forget chasing the "young crowd" and the rest of your ideas are all simplistic and wrong.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I like the idea of marketing outreach centered on the horse and pictures of the horse. It is HORSE racing, after all. But then I'd probably bet on gerbil racing, too, the idea of which I find kind of intriguing. I can hear it now: "Secretarodent is moving like an incredible machine!"
Greg 11 months ago
What r u talking about, whens the last time u cashed a wager?? If u didnt cash one at Delta Downs 2 wks ago u should find something else to complain about. My $20 all stakes pk 4 jackpot day got me $950. Tom Amoss won it with a kentucky horse. 1million dollar purse. Handicapers need to focus on $100,000 purse races not $ 5000 claimers that churchill has now.
1971 Whippet 11 months ago
If they cut their days - and add Instant Racing - maybe they can increase purses to previous levels. Sorry... I don't mean that. Hard to think that the "Turfway at Churchill Meeting" is the primary factor is this decline.
Ray Sousa 11 months ago
make it honest and they will come.