04/04/2015 1:14PM

Wagering on U.S. races down 12 percent in March


Wagering on U.S. races in March was down 12 percent compared with the same month last year, as the number of races held at U.S. tracks plummeted nearly 15 percent, according to figures released by Equibase on Saturday.

Wagering fell from $963.2 million in March 2014 to $847.7 million this March, according to the figures. Because the number of races held during the month declined at an even steeper rate, average wagering per race actually rose 3.2 percent on a month-to-month basis, from $288,629 last March to $297,947 this March.

March of this year had nine weekend dates, compared with 10 weekend dates in March 2014. Handle typically is far higher on weekend dates.

Purses fell by a similar rate as handle, declining 11.64 percent, from $85.7 million to $75.8 million. The average purse per race rose, however, from $25,690 to $26,626.

Racetracks across the U.S. have been aggressively cutting race dates and races over the past 12 months to counteract a sharp decline in the foal crop from 2010-12.

For the year, handle is down 5.2 percent, according to Equibase, while the number of race is down 7.6 percent. Purses are down 5.95 percent.