12/04/2010 1:30PM

November handle down, despite Breeders' Cup boost


Wagering on U.S. races continued to drop in November despite a boost from strong Breeders’ Cup figures, according to figures released by Equibase on Saturday.
Pulled down by an 8.8 percent contraction in race dates, handle on U.S. races during the month dropped 7.8 percent, from $982.7 million last November to $906.3 million this November, according to the figures. The decline is a continuation of a two-year trend during which wagering on U.S. races is on track to drop to its lowest annual level since the mid-1990s, unadjusted for inflation.
The wagering total dropped despite a $20 million increase on wagering on the two-day Breeders’ Cup event in the first weekend of November. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup was also held in November.
Race dates dropped from 411 in November of last year to 375 in November of this year, according to the figures. Racetracks across the country have been paring their schedules to deal with horse shortages and the protracted decline in interest in racing, which has accompanied the recession that began in 2008.
Purses distributed in U.S. races dropped 8.5 percent, from $104.3 to $95.5 million. Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by slot-machine revenues.
For the year, wagering on U.S. races is down 7.2 percent, from $11.6 billion to $10.7 billion. Purses have declined 6.2 percent, from $1.035 billion to $971 million. Race dates are down 7.9 percent, from 5,601 to 5,159.