10/04/2013 11:59AM

U.S. September handle falls on fewer race days

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Handle on U.S. races in September fell by 2.1 percent from last year, but the decline was mitigated in large part by a 4.8 percent decline in race days, according to figures released on Friday by Equibase.

Handle during the month was $777.6 million, according to Equibase, compared to $794.3 million in September of 2012. There were 24 fewer races days this September compared to the same month last year, leading to average handle per race day this September of $1.63 million, compared to $1.59 million in September of 2012.

Total purses distributed in U.S. races during the month jumped 2.9 percent, from $107.9 million last year to $111 million. Purses at U.S. racetracks benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars in annual subsidies from casinos.

With the September decline, wagering on U.S. races through the first nine months of the year is now down 0.1 percent. The year-to-date figure was briefly up after the August wagering figures were released.

Race days for the year are down 2.3 percent compared to total race days for the first nine months of 2012. Tracks are under pressure to reduce racing dates because of sharp declines in the foal crop over the past five years. Purses are up marginally, by 0.3 percent, according to the figures.