Pari-mutuel handle, purses flat in first quarter of 2017

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: April 6, 2017

Pari-mutuel handle and purses—when an owner-funded $12 million race is taken out of the equation—were flat for the first quarter of 2017, according to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released April 6 by Equibase.

Earlier this year, Equibase announced it would no longer issue the economic report on a monthly basis as it has done for years. The reason cited by the company was “significant fluctuations in handle year over year” because of variation in the number of weekend racing days per month.

For the first three months of this year, total commingled wagering on United States races was $2,472,799,741, down 1.04% from $2,498,809,887 for January through March of 2016 despite an increase of 278 individual racing programs. Average wagering per race dropped 4.55% to $327,523 from $343,148, according to the statistics.

Average field size of 7.85 for the first quarter of 2017 was down 4.14% from 8.19 for the same period last year.

Thoroughbred purses in the U.S. were up 7.76% year over year, but the bulk of the increase came from the introduction of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup in January at Gulfstream Park. And that $12 million was provided by owners who purchased 12 berths in the event.

The stats show purses for January, February and March totaled $212,670,977, up $15,322,718 from the first quarter of 2016. Without the Pegasus, purses would have been up 1.68%.