07/04/2009 11:00PM

June wagering down nearly 17 percent

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Wagering in June on U.S. races this year plummeted 16.9 percent compared to handle totals posted in June of last year, and purses declined 10.3 percent in the same time period, according to figures released on Sunday by Equibase.

Betting was $993,578,873 in June this year, compared to $1,195,562,620 last year, according to Equibase. The 16.9 percent decline was the largest month-to-month differential recorded since Equibase began releasing monthly handle figures in August of last year.

Purses declined to $101,126,923 from $112,735,233, while the number of race days run in June fell 5.63 percent, from 657 last year to 620 this year.

Several major U.S. racetracks cut racing days in June, including Churchill Downs and Hollywood Park.

Overall this year, handle is down 10.5 percent, according to Equibase, from $7.27 billion through the first six months of 2008 to $6.5 billion through the first six months of 2009. Purses are down 6 percent, and race days are down 2 percent, according to Equibase.