02/10/2016 3:57PM

Owners benefit from increased purses in 2015


Good news for owners: Purses are still going up despite what looks like a downslide in racing. That’s because total handle has remained relatively steady, actually showing a slight uptick year over year, while the number of runners and the number of races has declined, which boosts key measures.

According to information from The Jockey Club, in North America in 2015, purses totaled $1.154 billion, up 1.4% from the $1.17 billion in purses won in 2014. The important average purse per race figure increased 4.3% from 2014, to $27,341, an all-time high.

Average purse was boosted by an approximate 1% increase in total handle in North America while the number of races declined by a rather dramatic 5.4% in 2015. There were 42,220 races last year, down from 44,640 races in 2014.

The number of runners in 2015 declined 3.3%, to 53,365. Again, because total purses increased, the average earnings per starter increased to $21,632, up 2% from the $21,208 average in 2014.

The average number of starts per runner in 2015 dipped to 6.18, down from 6.22 in 2014.

Stakes purses in 2015 totaled $296 million, or 25.7% of all purses, while the number of stakes, 2,072, accounted for just 4.9% of all races. Average purse in a stakes last year was $143,264.