10/04/2014 7:06PM

Handle on U.S. races down sharply during September

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Wagering on U.S. races plummeted in September by the largest monthly margin in recent history when compared with the same month of the previous year, according to figures released by Equibase on Saturday, driven downward by a sharp decline in both races and starts at U.S. racetracks.

Total wagering in the month was $693.6 million, down 10.6 percent compared with handle in September 2013, when wagering was $775.3 million. Betting has not dropped so sharply in one month since Equibase began tracking handle numbers five years ago, in large part because wagering opportunities this September shrank at equally unprecedented rates on a month-by-month basis.

Races held at U.S. tracks in the month dropped 6.9 percent, according to the figures, a decline that reflects the severe pressures facing racetracks because of a precipitous decline in the foal crop from 2010 to 2012. Starts by horses in the month dropped by an even larger rate of 7.7 percent, an indication that field sizes nationwide continue to drop faster than the number of races.

The month of September this year had eight weekend dates, while the month of September last year had nine weekend dates, including two dates of the Labor Day holiday weekend, compared with one day this year.

The sharp September declines drove wagering for the year down 2.5 percent. Races for the year are down 4.1 percent, according to the figures released by Equibase, while starts are down 6.7 percent.

Because of the declines in races held at U.S. racetracks, handle per race for the year is up 1.6 percent, to $254,462 per race.

J Vette More than 1 year ago
Here's a way to fix it: Keep allowing uncoupled horses & the long price win & his uncoupled entry mate ,the usually the favorite run up the track. Keep giving out small fines to the cheaters so they can keep cheating. Keep allowing the race tracks to dig up the track so we can have more carryovers, it's a real positive when no one in the whole country can pick 6 winners. Keep allowing the cheaters to pick when their sentence will start. Have only 5 horse fields, the less horses in a race, the cheaper it is to wheel the race. Raise the takeout, the price of the form, & the price of admission. POKER rooms must have done all of the above, how else would they have become sooooo successful ??? Give all the SUITS a huge raise for all of the great decisions they have made through the years. Make the stewards who DQ'd that horse in Gulfstream's Rainbow P-6, the CZARS of racing ....
Mitch McMahon More than 1 year ago
DRF Plus. Nice work.
desurvivor . More than 1 year ago
Time to raise the takeout again!
Walter More than 1 year ago
Looks like the terrible decisions by the industry is catching up with them. I have to say horse racing deserves its fate.
Larry Rudolph More than 1 year ago
The racing is not competitive because of a lack of horse inventory at the tracks every other race has a horse below even money nobody is interested in betting short fields that are not competitive even quality racing with six horses in the field is uninteresting tracks should race less and have full competitive fields or the trend will continue
Bryan E More than 1 year ago
I agree that the quality is not there like before but i think that is mostly because horse racing has been in decline for so many years. I have been asking the people i know who used to be interested in horse racing why they have lost interest and they pretty much all have given different versions of the same answer: It's the cheating and lack of actual oversight of any kind; Period. The tracks have allowed the trainers and jockeys to make a joke out of what used to be called a sport. The argument that it is the recession makes me laugh because it must be from someone who wants to downplay the cheating. No one i asked mentioned anything about spending less money. And they all still love the casinos and poker...especially poker. And casinos and poker rooms are booming...probably because they actively try and also succeed at catching cheaters (the complete opposite of horse racing and most people seem to be catching on).
Bill Keating More than 1 year ago
I probably would not have become a racing fan and recreational gambler if my father, a casual fan, had not taken me to see some of the great fall races of the 70s at Belmont. This included both '78 Seattle Slew/Affirmed races. The second of those was the mile and a half Jockey Club, where both triple crown winners were at each others throats running the first six furlongs in 109.2. At this point Seattle Slew put Affirmed away, with the reason given being that Affirmed's saddle slipped. The exhausted Slew was himself caught and passed by the fine five year old handicap horse Exceller. Slew then became worthy of Andy Beyer's respect for the first time as a triple crown win but digging deep to come back at Exceller, running out of ground only a nose behind. Affirmed raced eleven times as a three year old triple crown winner. I tell this story because the failure of today's star horses to actually seek each other out and face each other. Horsemen having established a horse as a champion want to go out on top without risk of losing their reputation and the stud fees which go along with this. Retire the horse with reputation high, not risking reputation-damaging losses.
David Smith More than 1 year ago
the quality is not there anymore...the fields are not there anymore..legalize online poker and I might switch over to that...I dont see any improvements coming..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not going to blame the cheaters, even if they seem to get too much attention. I am going to blame The Great Recession which, coupled with a slow - but quite steady - recovery has fostered a new conservatism that our younger generation cannot ignore. Other than the 1%, incomes are stagnant....and prospects for significant improvement are spotty. So, you go to the track and you just "bet the mortgage" on a 2/5 shot 'cuz you like the name? Forget that stuff. Kinda like the fans who went to Suffolk on Closing Day, who wagered an average of four dollars on each Suffolk Downs race. Would you risk your money to give Suffolk another chance? I wouldn't. Maybe Eugene Klein was right when he said that horses don't demand a new contract. But a roulette wheel won't complain when you recycle it. They work, dirt cheap.
Lynn Spencer More than 1 year ago
Well U need to blame the cheaters/animal abusers because the only thing the avg. Joe Blow knows about Horse racing in America is it's rotten to the core...Sad but true my man...
mikey More than 1 year ago
Maybe the player's are fed up with the cheaters.
Pete Sundar More than 1 year ago
That's right Mikey, count me as one who gave up the game after forty years because of the cheaters. All you need to do is look at the current DRF headline from yesterday where Michelle Nevin's horse scored a "shocking" victory in a 500K Grade 1 race. Slick Rick Dutrow's girlfriend took out her trainer's license the day he was banned. Rumors on the backstretch is that she does not know a horse's nose from its toes. Wanna guess who is calling the shots in that stable ???
Lynn Spencer More than 1 year ago
If that is the case which is what I thought when I saw hoo was training the Horse I'm glad they gave his DA 10 years...Probably should have banned him for life along with a bunch of others...