03/14/2008 12:00AM

Churchill's overall handle $3.14B


Wagering on races and incoming simulcasts at the four tracks and other wagering sites owned by Churchill Downs Inc. was $3.14 billion in 2007, up 4.9 percent compared with 2006, according to financial documents the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Comparisons between 2006 and 2007 are difficult, however, because of several contingencies. In 2006, Churchill Downs was host of the Breeders' Cup, which drew $122 million in wagers. In addition, the Churchill-owned Fair Grounds Race Course did not run a meet in the fall and winter of 2005-06, dampening results for the track's wagering returns in 2006.

According to the documents, total handle on Churchill's races and on incoming simulcasts at the track was $852.6 million in 2007, a decline of 9 percent from $933 million in 2006, when the track hosted the Breeders' Cup. At Arlington Park near Chicago, total handle was $820.6 million, up 7 percent compared with 2006's result of $769.8 million.

At Calder in Florida, total handle was $922.5 million, down 4 percent from $963.5 million in 2006. At Fair Grounds, wagering was up 66 percent compared with 2006, from $328.3 million to $544.7 million.

Churchill announced last year that the company would no longer report handle from its racetracks on a meet-by-meet basis. The company provided only the gross figures in its filing with the SEC. Typically, racetracks separate the numbers for handle on races held at the track and handle on incoming simulcasts.

Revenues from parimutuel operations increased 8 percent, from $263.8 million in 2006 to $285.9 million in 2007, according to the documents, as yield on revenues remained level at 8.8 percent. In announcing Churchill's decision not to report handle figures last year, Bob Evans, the company's chief executive, said that revenue from parimutuel operations and the yield on the figures are the most accurate way to measure a racing company's results.

In addition, Churchill reported in the filing that handle through its account-wagering operation, Twinspires.com, was $94.2 million. Churchill launched the platform last year, and also folded three other account-wagering operations into the brand after purchasing the companies in the middle of 2007.