07/04/2014 4:02PM

Race days down sharply from June 2013 to June 2014

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Wagering on U.S. races during the month of June was down slightly while race days fell nearly 8 percent compared with the same month last year, according to figures released by Equibase on Friday.

Wagering fell 0.4 percent, from $931.8 million last year to $927.7 million this year. Race days fell from 571 during the month of June last year to 528 this June, a decline of 7.5 percent. June this year had nine weekend days, compared with 10 weekend days last year.

With the sharp decline in race days, average wagering per race day in June was $1.76 million, up 8 percent compared with average wagering of $1.63 million last June. The June figures this year benefited from record-setting betting on the Belmont Stakes and its undercard in early June, and they held steady despite significant drops in wagering on races at Churchill Downs in Kentucky during the month.

Racetracks are under pressure to cut races because of sharp declines in the foal crop from 2010 to 2012. The drop in race days is a result of that impact, as racetracks pare back their racing schedules in the hopes of maintaining field sizes attractive to bettors.

Though purses distributed during the month fell 4.4 percent, because of the decline in race days, the average purses per race day rose 3.4 percent, from $191,418 last June to $197,916 this June. Purses at U.S. racetracks are heavily subsidized by casino revenues.

Through the first six months of the year, wagering on U.S. races is down 1.7 percent, purses are down 0.4 percent, and race days are down 1.9 percent, according to the figures.