Two-day Breeders’ Cup handle down 5.19% from 2017

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Nov. 5, 2018

The up-and-down nature of Breeders’ Cup pari-mutuel handle continued Nov. 2-3 at Churchill Downs with total wagering on the two programs down 5.19% from 2017, when the event was held for the first time at Del Mar.

Breeders’ Cup reported total handle for 22 races—10 on Friday and 12 on Saturday—of $157,445,841, down from $166,077,486 last year. There were 13 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races last year versus 14 this year with the addition of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, as well as a schedule change in which only Breeders’ Cup events for 2-year-olds were held on the Friday card.

Last year’s handle figure was up 5.87% from 2016, when wagering at Santa Anita Park totaled $156,861,811. In the 11 years since Monmouth Park became the first track to host a two-day Breeders’ Cup, total handle year over year has increased five times and decreased six times.

The high point during that period came in 2010 at Churchill Downs, when handle reached $173,857,697. This year’s figure is 9.43% lower.

According to Breeders’ Cup, common-pool wagering on the nine Breeders’ Cup races held Nov. 3 was $96,018,060, down 3.82% from $99,833,643 in 2017 when nine races were run at Del Mar.

Total handle for this year’s Friday program, dubbed “Breeders’ Cup Future Stars Friday,” was $52,261,685, about even with the $52,273,883 reported last year. The highest Friday handle for a two-day Breeders’ Cup came in 2010 at Churchill when $54,889,388 was wagered.

Churchill has hosted the Breeders’ Cup three times since the expansion to two days in 2007 and has the three highest combined attendance figures: 112,672 this year, 114,353 in 2010 and 105,820 in 2011. Last year’s combined attendance at Del Mar was 70,420, but attendance was capped at 37,500 each day because of the size of the venue.

The World Championships will be held in 2019 at Santa Anita, followed by Keeneland in 2020 and Del Mar in 2021. Host sites beyond that haven’t been named.

(Photo by Matt Wooley/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM courtesy of Breeders’  Cup)