07/09/2013 12:14PM

Churchill Downs handle rises at spring meet

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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.