05/05/2014 11:46AM

Handle, number of race days down in April


Wagering on U.S. horse races was down 6.1 percent in April compared with the same month last year, a decline that was coupled with a significant contraction in the number of race days during the month, according to figures released Monday by Equibase.

Wagering fell to $812.6 million from $865.1 million in April 2013, according to the figures. The number of race days, however, fell 6.6 percent, from 380 to 355, making average wagering per race day this April $2.29 million, compared with average wagering per race day of $2.28 million in April 2013.

Even with fewer race days, purses fell only 2 percent during the month, from $82.0 million to $79.7 million. Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by casino revenue.

Through the first four months of the year, wagering on U.S. races was down 3.1 percent, according to Equibase. Race days were down 2.1 percent. Purses were down 2.1 percent as well.

Race days are expected to contract even further in 2014 due to a significant reduction in the foal crop from 2010 to 2012. Racing officials believe U.S. racetracks must cut 25 percent of their races by the end of next year in order to maintain current field sizes.