11/05/2014 1:25PM

October wagering increases on Breeders' Cup bump

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Betting on U.S. races in October was up 2.7 percent compared to the same month last year, according to figures released Wednesday by Equibase, but the October numbers this year were bolstered significantly by wagering on the Friday card of the Breeders’ Cup two-day event, which took place Oct. 31 this year, compared to Nov. 1 last year.

Betting during the month was $824.5 million, compared to $802.7 million in October last year, a difference of $21.8 million. Total handle on the Friday Breeders’ Cup card at Santa Anita this year was $45.8 million, according to Breeders’ Cup, whereas Santa Anita would handle approximately $10 million on a typical Friday card.

This year, the month of October had eight weekend days, the same number of weekend days as last year.

The number of races held at U.S. tracks in the month was up only slightly, by less than 1 percent, increasing from 3,461 during October of last year to 3,477 this year. Race dates were up marginally as well, from 411 last year to 414 this year.

Also buoyed by the Friday Breeders’ Cup numbers, purses distributed during the month were up 11.3 percent, from $94.1 million to $104.8 million. Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by revenues from casinos.

For the first 10 months of the year, handle is down 2.1 percent, according to Equibase. Races are down 3.7 percent as tracks continue to cut races from their schedules in an attempt to maintain competitive field sizes. Purses are down slightly by 0.3 percent.