08/05/2010 1:27PM

Handle decline slows in July


Handle on U.S. Thoroughbred races declined by 2 percent in July compared with wagering in July of last year, according to figures released by Equibase on Thursday, a significant improvement from steep month-to-month declines during the past year.

The decline, from $1.05 billion during July of last year to $1.03 billion this year, compared favorably with a 5.8 percent decline in the June figures and an 8.3 percent decline in the May figures. In addition, the 2 percent decline this month was less steep than the 3.2 percent decline during the month in the number of live racing days held at U.S. tracks in July.

The improvement was due in part to an earlier start to the popular Saratoga meet in upstate New York. Bettors have also responded favorably to a three-day-per-week racing schedule at Monmouth Park this summer, with daily handle totals for the track more than twice the daily average during last year’s meet. Total purses distributed during the month declined 0.5 percent, from $110 million to $109.5 million, according to the figures.

For the year, handle is down 7.14 percent, purses are down 4.66 percent, and race days are down 5.51 percent, according to Equibase.