12/04/2011 12:51PM

November handle declines; purses, races rise from comparable month in 2010


Handle on races at U.S. racetracks continued to decline in November when compared with the same month last year, while both purses and race days showed significant gains, according to figures released on Sunday by Equibase.

Declining from $905.9 million in November of last year to $874.4 million this year, handle slipped 3.5 percent in the month, a rate significantly lower than in previous months. However, handle was likely bolstered by a 4.5 percent increase in race days, from 375 in November of last year to 392 this year, at a time when the racing industry has been generally cutting back on race cards in order to counteract a decline in the foal crop and maintain field sizes above eight horses per race.

Purses distributed in U.S. races jumped 6.7 percent, from $95.5 million in November of last year to $101.9 million this year. Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by slot machine revenues.

For the year, U.S. handle is down 7.1 percent, according to the figures, from $10.7 billion last year to $9.97 billion this year. Purses are up 1.68 percent, while race days are down 4 percent.