Handle down, purses up slightly in first quarter of 2019

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: April 5, 2019

Total pari-mutuel handle on United States races for the first quarter of 2019 was down 3.49% from the same three months in 2018, in part because of a 2.83% drop in wagering in March.

The statistics, part of the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released by Equibase April 5, show that $2,534,884,965 was wagered in the first quarter versus $2,626,627,511 for the same period a year ago. There were 10 fewer races year over year and average field size dropped to 7.80 from 7.92.

Thoroughbred purses in March of this year were down 2.69% (from $81,799,943 to $79,603,010) but remained on the plus side (0.77%) for the first three months of 2019. The 2019 figure was $227,068,978 versus $225,322,915 in 2018.

In other year-to-date numbers, race days dropped by four to 844; the number of races fell by nine to 7,289; and total starts was decreased 1.73% to 56,822. Average handle per race for the first three months of the year was $347,768, down 3.37% from $359,910 a year ago.