November handle, purses decline after solid bump in October

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Dec. 6, 2020

After a solid increase in October, total pari-mutuel handle on Thoroughbred racing in the United States in November dropped 6.33% from the same month in 2019, while U.S. purses declined 20.47% year over year, according to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators.

For October 2020, total handle of $929,063,211 was up 19.71% from October 2019. Purses totaled $91,981,753, down only 1.24% from the previous year.

November 2020 wagering came in at $895,325,220, a figure that includes the two-day Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. In November 2019, handle totaled $955,843,009, which also included the Breeders’ Cup, held last year at Santa Anita Park.

The number of races in November was 1,945, down 28.75% from 2,730 the previous November. The average number of horses per race, however, increased 4.35% to 8.35 from 8.00.

November purses for Thoroughbred racing totaled $92,058,080, a decrease of 20.47% from $115,756,315 year over year.

Despite a 24.52% drop in the number of races and a 20.34% decline in number of starts, commingled wagering through the first 11 months of 2020 is down only 1.48% to $10,173,203,539, according to the Equibase statistics. With one month to go in the year, purses are down 26.28% ($812,146,506 this year versus $1,101,605,086 last year.

According to The Jockey Club Fact Book, total U.S. purses have been above $1 billion every year since 1999, when purses totaled $962.9 million.