Updated on 08/04/2014 2:16PM

Handle on U.S. races declines in July


Wagering on U.S. races was down 3.5 percent in July compared with the same month last year, according to figures released Monday by Equibase, as racetracks continued to cut both the number of racing dates and races from their schedules.

Wagering fell from $923.4 million last July to $891.3 million, as race dates contracted 2.5 percent, from 530 in July 2013 to 517 in July of this year. In addition to paring race dates from their schedules, many tracks have been reducing the number of races offered on each racing day, so the contraction in racing opportunities is likely higher than the decline in race dates.

July 2014 had eight weekend dates, the same number as last year. Wagering and race-dates numbers can sometimes be skewed by the number of weekend dates in a month.

All-sources wagering at this year’s Saratoga meeting was down 9 percent through the first 10 days of its meet this year, accounting for nearly half of the total decline in betting, with several days in July not included in the total. Saratoga, which opened in mid-July, has suffered from rainier weather this year than last year, resulting in numerous scratches and races moved off the turf.

Total purses distributed at all U.S. tracks were down 5.7 percent in the month to $103.6 million, reflecting the contraction in racing opportunities. Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by casino revenue.

With the latest declines, handle on U.S. races and the number of race dates have both dropped 2.0 percent for the first six months of the year. Purses are down 1.3 percent, though the average purse per starter in the United States has jumped significantly over the past 18 months because of declines in race dates and field sizes.

avlamal More than 1 year ago
lower takeouts-and they will come its that simple or a dry run to influence the corrupted ignorant and craven ny state senate the problem is the politician and their total stupidity
John More than 1 year ago
Ill tell you an example of how racing is killing itself ! I took 4 people to the races Sunday, all 1st timers . They were so excited, I mean it was a perfect day, good card, and they were just enjoying themselves to no end . I showed them how to pool their money and play a couple PICK 3's and the PICK 4. They were counting their $$$ winning before the horse's ever came to the saddling ring ! After they made their bets, they had a scratch on each of their tickets.................meaning a partial refund, but they didnt realize this until we were on our way home . I should have checked their tickets , but I was betting and , well..............................It now seems that Santa Anita & Del Mar have done away with the information concerning scratch's & refunds, how, when and why . So, the new players, and even some of us regulars get lost with all the refunds, or do we get the favorites.....................! My friends tossed a $30 refund and a $24 refund ticket, which all will end up in the states coffers ! NOT GOOD CHRB, swindling the new player is like shooting yourself in the foot , but oh, YOU DONT CARE !
John More than 1 year ago
The problem with racing is never going to go away , unless race tracks, groups like the NYRA & CHRB , finally realize, the betting public makes racing go, and without them, its going to slowly die ! Racing management needs to realize, raising take-out is killing the game . There are way too many better games offered now with all the casino's, so why should a knowledgable gambler pay $.23 - $.26 per dollar bet , for the luxury of the bet ? It doesnt make sense, and racetracks dont have enough brains to realize this ! More money in the gamblers pocket, the more it churns, back into the pools............! Its been evident here in California the best example is the new PICK 5, with a take-out of %14, the pools are huge each day, and the payoffs are humongous ! Say Good Bye to racing as we knew it until racing begins to put some players on board to help make decisions, not the type people who think greed is good ! HEAR ME CHRB ?
Walter More than 1 year ago
July is supposed to be one of the busier months on the racing calendar because of Del Mar and Saratoga. So this is definitely an indicator of things to come for the sport. Horse racing, you can only shoot yourself in the foot so many times. It will come to a point where it cannot be repaired.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Racing declines in July. I don’t track total U.S. handle although it is 1-9 this will continue. The comments below list jockey incompetence, escalating DRF form price, track manipulations, take out rates, TV commentators impersonating chalk eating weasels, and in strange in-race odds dips. For me personally it is combination of many factors. They include short fields, exorbitant rakes, declining quality in Kentucky, and general dissatisfaction with how the game is being or not being governed. One other factor that is rarely mentioned but honestly plays a part is difficulty. I have played for 40 years. The game should be easier to beat now. We have Formulator, ADW’s with probables/will pays and video replay access. We have superb clocker reports if you are willing to invest. Decades ago this key information was self-generated or you flew blind. However, today I see long time excellent handicappers struggling to beat the game consistently. Check out the DRF selections at the end of day at SAR or Del Mar. Usually it will totally under-whelm you. Check out how the knowledgeable Brad Free said to play Del Mar Sunday to get my drift. Professionals are playing contests instead of betting. Now gambling on racing is not a lost cause just more difficult to grind out profits. That puzzles me as I would think it should be easier with the proliferation of information. I realize everyone can access the same information so where is your edge but again folks that complain about a $7.50 DRF are not buying workouts and other products.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
People are sick of paying $7.50 for the racing form. It is worth about $2.00. That is the biggest drawback for going to the track. I just can't see it. Also the takeout and the uncoupled entries. Just who needs this bull.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Why is this the only sport where you pay for news and info ? You go into any Vegas casino and past performances are free... Racetracks can do the same.
Darrell Peck More than 1 year ago
I love horse racing but any time you see jockeys not riding out their mounts,stewards not making the right calls,trainers juicing their horses and morning lines of 20-1 only to go off at 2-1 is killing the industry. There is so much dishonesty that they nobody know what's the truth anymore. I love the idea that bringing in a casino will bring in better horses and bigger purses. If all the tracks get casino's then where are these horses coming from. Its a complete joke as really race tracks only really want the casino's. With all the part time jobs being created most people really can't afford to wager any of the money they earn, they need it to stay alive.
Raycing W More than 1 year ago
Darrell, You have hit it on the head. I'm a longtime horse player (35 years) and have in the past 6 months have grown very frustrated with all of the issues you point out in your first sentence (they have always existed in racing, but too a much lesser extent in the past). I consistently watch races where 7 out of 10 riders clearly have no interest in riding to win. I've seen more b.s. steward rulings in the last year then I recall (both directions, take downs and put ups). I've grown tired of watching horses set up/doped up for scores by trainers and trainers bragging about their scores (Peter Miller, Karl Broberg, others), and watching a horse win at 2 -1 with a terrible form that even after the race I look at the form again and still can't find a reason to bet this horse. It is good to know that I'm not the only one who loves this game, but sees that it has changed adversely to such an extent that I'm not sure it is worth following anymore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It looks like i'm getting the word out that track officials are manipulating the odds, the payouts, the pools, etc. and people are staying away from it. Good for you guys. Hope it drops to zero handle.
FESTUS ELROY More than 1 year ago
Who are you?It says Anonymous.You should be proud of your revelation?what if the guy who invented the light bulb was named Anonymous..
Joseph Rotell More than 1 year ago
that's easy to fix, just jackup the takeout rate a few more percentage points, instead of taking 19-21% on exacta's take 26-30% and on tri's, just bump it up to 40 takeout. that should fix her up.
Bob More than 1 year ago
$8 racing forms have a lot to do with it. The $2 bettor is the guy who keeps this game alive fir he long run. This is the only sport where you pay for past performances and news .