07/09/2013 12:14PM

Churchill Downs handle rises at spring meet


Average daily handle during the 38-day Churchill Downs spring meet this year was up 5.4 percent compared with the average handle during last year’s meet, according to records provided by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

The average this year was $10.97 million compared with $10.40 million last year, according to the records, despite a slight decline in betting on the May 5 Kentucky Derby card. Excluding wagering on the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby cards, the average was $5.18 million, up 10.7 percent from the figure for last year. Both the 2013 and 2012 meets had 38 live racing days.

Churchill Downs Inc. does not release handle figures for any of its tracks. The state racing commission requires racetracks to file daily handle reports, and those reports are public record.

Churchill had earlier reported that field size during the spring meet was up marginally, from 7.74 horses per race last year to 7.78 horses per race this year. Many tracks are struggling to maintain competitive field sizes because of stark declines in the national foal crop.

Churchill also had reported that total purses distributed during the meet were $20.33 million, for an average of $534,942 per day, down 2.7 percent compared with average purse distribution during the meet last year.

mikey More than 1 year ago
As Tony Soprano said Chruchill is like a old lady with a ham under her are crying she has no bread.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Daily handle $10.97 million. Daily purses $534,942. This is just wrong people. Churchill wants to drop purses and pretend they don't have money to compete with "slot machine" tracks. Don't believe it for a second. Daily handle nearly $11 million. Daily purses about $500k. That's unacceptable. I wish someone from DRF would do a national article on this calling Churchill out. If a track that gets $11 million bet there a day has to lower purses, how do other tracks even stay open. Churchill doesn't release their handle because they don't want people to know they're making a killing. They want to sandbag and pretend they need slots. Don't let them fool you. Churchill should be happy that they DON'T need slots.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
And that $11 million a day doesn't count ticket sales or concessions (especially beer). They are making so much money it ridiculous. A 16 oz beer costs $5.25 in a normal day $8 on Derby and Oaks day. It cost at least $50 if not a lot more to go to the Derby and there are over 150,000 people there. At least $30 to go to Oaks if not way more. Churchill makes more money than any other track in America.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Less tracks would lead to bigger fields. The market is simply flooded.