Handle, purses decline in wake of virus-related shutdowns

Posted: April 4, 2020

Commingled pari-mutuel handle on United States races in March fell 22.58% with almost 900 fewer races than the same month in 2019, while total handle for the first quarter of 2020 was down 1.02% from the same period a year ago, according to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released by Equibase April 3.

By mid-March, racetracks in the U.S. began suspending live racing because of executive orders tied to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. That also led to a 29.98% drop in purses in March and a 9.64% decline in purses for the first three months of 2020.

Handle for March was reported at $731,702,397 compared with $945,087,433 a year ago. Purses totaled $55,774,436, down from $79,653,572. The number of races in March was 1,787, a drop of 33.27% from 2,678 in March 2019.

Average handle per race in March was $409,458, a jump of 16.02% from $352,907 in March of last year.

For the first quarter of 2020, wagering on Thoroughbred races came in at $2,509,170,169, down 1.02% from $2,534,968,772 a year ago. Purses totaled $205,227,651, a drop of 9.64% from $227,119,640 in for the first three months of 2019.