Updated on 05/05/2014 5:20PM

Kentucky Derby handle down 0.8 percent

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Betting on the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday was down slightly from last year, while overall betting on the 13-race card rose slightly, according to a side-by-side comparison of charts of the races.

Betting on the Derby was $124.66 million, according to the chart of the race, compared with betting of $125.66 million last year, down 0.8 percent. Both races had 19-horse fields. The totals do not include the money bet in the future wagers offered by Churchill in the months leading up to the race.

The final rating for the live broadcast on NBC was a 9.4, down slightly from the 9.7 posted for last year’s Derby broadcast. In a release, NBC said the broadcast was watched in 15.3 million households, compared with 16.2 million households last year. The share, a measure of the percentage of televisions in use that were tuned to the broadcast, was a 22, slightly higher than the share of 21 posted for last year’s broadcast, which, unlike this year, did not compete with an NBA playoff game.

Betting on the entire card Saturday was $180.75 million, up 1.4 percent from $178.27 million last year, according to the charts. A total of 128 horses ran in the 13 races, compared with 122 horses last year, up 4.9 percent.

The mixed results came on a day when Churchill reported attendance of 164,906, the second-highest figure of all time behind reported attendance of 165,307 for the 2012 Derby. There was nearly ideal weather Saturday in Louisville, with highs in the lows 70s and clear skies. Last year, when rain threatened the Louisville area all day, attendance was reported by Churchill as 151,616.

Ontrack betting for the day was $23.4 million, according to the track, up 11 percent. Ontrack betting on the Derby was $11.9 million, up 4 percent, Churchill said.

Handle was basically level at a time when some horseplayers were urging bettors to boycott Churchill Downs because of the track’s decision to raise its takeout rates at the start of the spring meet April 26. Rates on straight wagers rose from 16 percent to 17.5 percent, while rates on exotic wagers rose from 19 percent to 22 percent.

The higher takeout rates, coupled with higher rates that Churchill has begun getting for its signal from simulcast sites, likely had a significant impact on the company’s revenue. In a release, Churchill chief executive Bob Evans said the company’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization – a measure of cash flow favored by companies – for Derby Week was up between $7.5 million and $9.5 million compared with last year.

Churchill also said that handle through its market-leading account-wagering operation, twinspires.com, was up 6 percent on Derby Day and 11 percent on the Derby itself.

Handle on the Kentucky Oaks card Friday at Churchill was $43.14 million, down slightly from last year. Combined, handle on the two days was $223.89 million, compared with $223.92 million last year, virtually even.

The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, won by Wise Dan for the second year in a row, drew $8.6 million in bets, up $1.5 million from last year. The race had 10 runners this year, compared with seven runners last year.

The Derby was won by 5-2 favorite California Chrome. Last year, the favorite also won the race, but the victorious Orb went off at 5.40-1, one of the highest prices for a favorite in the history of the race. Bettors placed $54.13 million in straight wagers on the Derby this year, down 4.8 percent from $56.86 million in straight wagers last year.

Handle for the pick six ending with the Derby was $1.29 million. The pick four had handle of $2.91 million, while the pick five had handle of $1.45 million.

Bob More than 1 year ago
They didn't even show chrome wearing the bed of roses ...c'mon NBC.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Should be noted the drop in the ratings was expected given the Derby did air opposite the first of THREE NBA first round Game 7s on TNT, that being Atlanta Hawks-Indiana Pacers, a series that got a lot of attention because of all the woes the Pacers have had over the past month, looking very shaky until that game. The fact it only dropped to a 10.1 is very positive and would have ranked it in the Top 5 TV programs of the week had it qualified for the prime time ratings. Still think once Floyd Mayweather, Jr. retires from Boxing Churchill Downs and NBC will move the Derby to a 7:00-10:00 PM ET broadcast with Derby post time likely pushed back to around 9:30 PM ET. We likely would have already seen the first nighttime Derby were it not for the fact that Mayweather is the biggest draw in the 25+ year pay-per-view era of Boxing and if he had fought Manny Pacquiao in either 2012 or last year, it would have SHATTERED ALL EXISTING PAY-PER-VIEW RECORDS regardless of whether or not it was a sporting event. That fight was expected to get 5-7 MILLION buys and 20-25 MILLION viewers had it happened, which would have been the first (and likely only) time ever that a pay-per-view event would have been the #1 rated television program of the week. Churchill likely is concerned (in my opinion) until Mayweather retires that they would have to shell out eight figures to bring the fight in for a crowd that for the first nighttime Derby ever likely would be over 200,000 (as you'd get all those who would be there just to say they attended the first-ever nighttime Derby) and the promoters of a Mayweather fight (especially if it's against Manny Pacquiao) would have demanded that. Given the Derby is one of the few events that can draw a big rating on a Saturday night, I see NBC doing that once Mayweather retires so the rating from the Derby counts towards the prime time ratings in the "May Sweeps."
1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
$141 per capita on-track is more than I would have expected. Haven't been in a couple of years....do they only take bets on CD for Derby Day? Now that I'm old, I'm less inclined to be critical but, really, what value is there to posting the horses' speed expressed in MPH? Confusing at best. More like worthless.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Down 0.8 percent? And this warrants a story? So one million dollar gambler didn't get his $100,000 win bet in this year and its a story?
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
And the TV ratings were ? Have to give kudos because not only did they cover the Woodford, but showed great replays of the stretch run. Someday they might figure out that Bob Costas is a good play by play announcer, but not quite as good in working news stories. Although I will admit that he tried to be respectful of both sides. The most out of place segment was that skater who likes to wear Easter Parade Hats - really weird (pun intended).
Juan Perez More than 1 year ago
What a joke played on the horse owners! We bet almost 125 million bucks of which track takes 17.5 % ( almost 22 millions) and the one that puts the show on the road only get 1.2 millions, since more than a million is put on entry fees. Let´s get real C.D and put a purse commensurate with the money taken from all those bets. See you at the cashier window
mikey More than 1 year ago
Maybe the weakest field in many years.The track was pretty fast but the horses slow.The Churchill meet is over wait till next May.
edb More than 1 year ago
How about CD not taking 10 cent supers? Not that I'm complaining. Where I bet, they had four tellers and maybe 25 machines. Derby day is brutal to bet and you couldn't do a casual bet if you wanted to. When GM of place was asked about more tellers, he said he would have to cut hours of the four tellers and they would fill a grevience with the union. When asked about the other empty machines, he said most of them were broke. Now that's how you grow a business. Not one concern about the customer. So maybe the 10 cent super would have added to the lines of lost bettors. It is great that the people in charge just don't care. CD better get ready for red numbers. They can always increase their takeout. Wait a minute, they already did. My bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THEY NEED A SEPARATE MACHINE FOR THE 10 CENT PLAYERS. I CANT TELL HOW MUCH IT ROTS TO BE BEHIND SOME 10 CENT PLAYER ONLY TO GET SHUT OUT OF A WINNER.
edb More than 1 year ago
It's the thinking between bets that is the killer. Which pretty horse should I put second? Hate to rush anyone who's betting $3.60.
Dave Mckenna More than 1 year ago
you shouldn't be wagering that late , its your own fault
edb More than 1 year ago
They are pushing their customers to computers with their bad service. I like to bet after seeing the odds change. Dave, where do you bet? Jiffy Lube?
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
it was a calculated decision to keep the superfectas at a $1 minimum--that keeps the little guy out--and allows for an average super payoff of $150k the last decade--if they had dime supers they could not promote it as such--much like Santa Anita keeping the Pick 6 at a $2 min.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Racing needs a commisioner just like MLB, NBA, NHL etc...
Lefty More than 1 year ago
Yeah, but they will put in some silly person rather then someone who knows what they are doing.
M More than 1 year ago
Our powers that be in Texas shut down the ADWs late last year. That could easily have that much effect. We used to be able to wager on almost any track in the nation here......with the exception of Texas race tracks. Seems they think a "brick and morar" law will bring back the people and the money to the track.......yeah, right.