11/05/2012 1:58PM

Handle in October drops from 2011


Betting on U.S. horse races in October of this year was down 8.8 percent compared with betting in the same month in 2011, according to figures released on Monday be Equibase.

The drop in handle coincided with a similar decline in the number of race days in the month compared with October of last year. Race days declined 7.8 percent, from 471 last October to 434 this October, as tracks continue to cut race days in order to counter dramatic drops in the annual foal crop stretching back to 2006.

The October decline in betting follows a slight gain in September. Month-by-month handle comparisons throughout 2012 have seesawed, but for the year, handle is up 1.3 percent, according to Equibase. Unadjusted for inflation, handle on U.S. horse races has declined every year since 2007.

Handle during October 2012 was $742.7 million, according to Equibase, down from $814.3 million last October. Accounting for the drop in race days, average handle per race day was $1.71 million this October, compared with $1.73 million last October.

Purses dropped 8.4 percent, from $101.5 million in October last year to $93.0 million this year. Average purse distribution per race day was up slightly.