09/05/2012 12:00PM

U.S. handle rises 11.6 percent in August; race days increase 9.3 percent


Wagering on U.S. races during the month of August increased 11.6 percent compared to wagering during August of last year, according to figures released Wednesday by Equibase, but the jump was tempered by a nearly equivalent rise in race days.

While betting on U.S. races during the month rose from $982 million to $1.096 billion, the number of race days increased from 527 in August of last year to 576 in August 2012, a rise of 9.3 percent. On average, handle per race day in August of this year was $1.90 million, compared to $1.86 million last year, a difference of 2.1 percent.

Total purse distribution in U.S. races during the month of August was $117.1 million, a 21.4 percent jump over purses distributed in August of last year, according to the figures. The jump of nearly $21 million was largely attributable to purse increases at Saratoga Race Course, which received supplements from casino revenues for the first time this year, along with the higher number of race days. This year at Saratoga, which opened in late July and closed after Labor Day weekend, total purse distribution was $37.8 million over 40 days, compared to $26.9 million over the 40-day meet last year.

For the year, handle is up 2.3 percent, according to Equibase, while purses are up 8.4 percent. The number of U.S. race days is up 1.8 percent.