07/06/2011 11:07AM

June wagering, race days decline

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Race days in the United states declined nearly 10 percent in June this year compared with last year, according to figures released by Equibase on Tuesday, and handle on U.S. races during the month followed suit, declining 5.2 percent.

The 9.67 percent drop in race days is the largest month-to-month decline in recent history. Many U.S. racetracks have been slashing dates from their schedules in order to address declines in field size related to a precipitous decline in the foal crop and training methods that increasingly favor fewer starts.

Handle on U.S. races during the month dropped from $935.7 million last June to $886.9 million this June, according to the figures. For the first six months of the year, handle has dropped 7.7 percent, from $5.99 billion to $5.53 billion, putting handle on track to post the lowest annual figure since 1995, when handle was $10.5 billion.

Purses during June were $96.7 million, down 3.3 percent from $100 million last June, according to the figures. Purses have not declined at the same rate as handle because of increasing subsidies from slot machines and a large purse increase in California that went into effect at the beginning of this year. The California purse increases have been funded by an increase in takeout.

In total for the first six months of the year, race days are down 6.2 percent, from 2,644 last year to 2,481 this year. Purses are up 1.15 percent, from $476.8 million to $482.2 million.