05/03/2009 11:00PM

Handle in U.S. drops in quarter

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Wagering on U.S. horse races declined in April by more than $100 million compared with the same month last year, a 10.1 percent drop, according to figures released by Equibase on Monday.

Purses also declined at a similar rate, dropping 9.2 percent, from $90,659,342 in April 2008 to $82,285,129 this April. Although purses have been more resilient to declines in wagering over the past year because of subsidies from slot machines, the declines are beginning to match up because of precipitous declines in casino-type gambling during the current recession.

According to Equibase's figures, handle on races held in the United States in April was $1,027,885,851, down $115 million from $1,143,003,738 last April.

For the first three months of the year, handle is down 9.53 percent, from $4.570 billion during the first three months of 2008 to $4.135 billion during the first three months this year. Purses through the first three months are down 5.11 percent, from $314.3 million last year to $298.2 this year.

Race days in April were down slightly, 1.34 percent, from 448 last year to 442 this year. Race dates for the year to date are down 0.6 percent, from 1,587 to 1,596.