12/02/2014 11:16AM

Handle plunges again at Churchill fall meet

Debra A. Roma
Gross handle for Churchill's fall meet dropped nearly 20 percent compared to 2013.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – All-sources handle at the Churchill Downs fall meet that ended Sunday was down significantly again, continuing a downward trend at this historic track.

Gross handle at a 24-day meet that began Oct. 26 was $95,225,100, for a daily average of $3,967,712. The gross was down 19 percent from the 2013 fall meet, where handle was $117.6 million for 25 days, and the daily average was down 16.7 percent.

Daily handle at the 2013 fall meet was down 15.3 percent from the 2012 fall meet, where 21 dates were run. Moreover, handle at the 2014 spring meet was down 28 percent from 2013, not including the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, and handle at the 2014 September meet was down 16 percent from the inaugural September meet in 2013.

Churchill officials long have claimed that they are at a competitive disadvantage without the gaming revenue that rival tracks can funnel into purses. Another factor in play: Churchill raised wagering takeout to the statutory maximum this year, leading to dissatisfaction from horseplayers in the North American simulcast market.

Ontrack handle for the 2014 fall meet was not immediately available from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Attendance has not been released since Churchill-owned tracks stopped making those figures public in 2007.

Gross purse payouts for the fall meet were more than $8.6 million, up 9 percent over last fall. The daily purse payout was up almost 5 percent.

Field size averaged 8.56 horses per race, down from 8.81 at the 2013 fall meet. Favorites won 95 of 250 races (38 percent). There were 139 horses claimed for more than $2.7 million, yielding $163,920 in sales-tax revenue to the state of Kentucky.

Churchill was scheduled to run 26 days this fall, but two dates (Nov. 19-20) were canceled because of the weather. That prevented the daily handle figures from being even worse: The canceled days were a Wednesday and Thursday, and an extra race was added to four programs at the end of the meet.

On the racetrack, Corey Lanerie won 36 races and was the leading jockey for the seventh time in the last eight Churchill meets. Ken and Sarah Ramsey tied with Gary and Mary West for leading owner (12 wins each), marking a record-extending 23rd time the Ramseys have won or tied for the title here. Dale Romans sent out 14 winners and has now won or tied for leading trainer here 12 times.

Mel More than 1 year ago
I used to love betting CD but no more. I have not made a wager, except Oaks and Derby days, since they raised the takeout. Now the racing is going downhill so I doubt I will ever bet this track again. The only CDI track I wager on is Fairgrounds and my desire to wager there is waning.
mark More than 1 year ago
It is real sad to read articles like this , followed by all the posts. It is painfully obvious that horseracing is going extinct like many in the long line of things that no longer exixt. I've been a horseman since the late 60s and watched as wonderful events and horses like Secretariat continued to try to save racing. But I saw the decline and felt it inside, and this is just the culmination of that process. I can see a point in time when this sport will be but a memory , to be gawked at in some innocuous museum tucked away in some nameless city. What a shame that greed fuels the decline!
johnd More than 1 year ago
And the chickens are coming home to rooster. They're getting exactly what they asked for by their unmitigated greed. Hopefully next year will show even greater declines in handle.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
Pigs get fat......Hogs get slaughtered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the boycott is working
Henry Malmoth More than 1 year ago
Keep up the good work C.D.I. Why should I open an account to wager at your racetracks when your takeout is higher than the NY circuit? If it were lowered maybe. But not the way you have it set up now. I no longer bet the Kentucky Derby and haven't for a few years because I need a Twin Spires account.First came the Oaks/Derby seat licenses then the higher takeouts. What will you give us horse players next pay per view?
Al Michaels More than 1 year ago
Raise the take out lose the players. Good job Churchill. I don't even look at the pp's anymore. Even if they fixed everything I won't do business with those SOBs.
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Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
It's not always just that easy though. You have the infrastructure already set in KY. Everything from huge farms to the best vets. Don't discount the vet issue. So many of these young horses need attention and you have the top facility in the country in Rood and Riddle as well as the vet program at UK. Taxes and the cost of living are much higher in NY which would make many shy away. Lastly the state government in KY is much more friendly to horse racing than NY currently is.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe It was a mistake to raise the takeout Duh More tax less play until the game is dead.Slots and table games are for people with too much money I play about 500 a day hoping to profit 10% at the tracks with the lowest takeout