03/04/2015 2:15PM

Handle on U.S. races down in February


Wagering on U.S. races in February dropped 3.7 percent compared with the same month last year, while the number of races held at U.S. tracks dropped a similar amount, 3 percent, according to figures released Wednesday by Equibase.

Wagering during the month dropped from $792.4 million to $763.4 million, according to Equibase. With the decline in races factored in, wagering per race in the month dropped 0.7 percent, from $328,837 to $326,099.

There were the same number of weekend dates in February of 2015 and 2014. Wagering is sharply higher on weekends than on weekdays.

While the number of races fell, the number of starts increased 1.6 percent compared with February of last year. Overall during the month, average field size jumped from 7.74 horses per race last February to 8.03 horses per race this February.

Purses distributed in U.S. races during the month dropped 2.57 percent, but with the number of races falling at a higher rate, the average purse per race increased slightly. Total purses for the month were $60.85 million, compared with $62.46 million in February of last year.

Through the first two months of the year, handle is down 1.1 percent, according to Equibase, with one additional weekend date this year compared with last year.