Total commingled handle tops $12B for first time since 2009

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 7, 2022

Total commingled pari-mutuel handle on United States Thoroughbred racing was $12.21 billion in 2022, up 11.86% from $10.92 billion in 2020 and up 10.74% from $11.03 billion in 2019, according to Equibase.

Live racing schedules were greatly impacted in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions. The Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released by Equibase thus reflect double-digit percentage jumps for U.S. purses, race days, races and starts in 2021 versus 2020.

According to The Jockey Club Fact Book, total commingled handle last year topped $12 billion for the first time since 2009. The high points came from 2002 to 2004 from handle topped $15 billion each year.

U.S. Thoroughbred purses in 2021 totaled $1.18 billion, up 35.77% from $869.7 million in 2020 and an increase of 1.11% from 2019, when purses totaled $1.16 billion.

With the substantive increase in race days and races, average field size dropped 7.20% in 2021 to 7.37 from 7.94 in 2020. It also lagged 2.08% from 2019, when it was recorded at 7.53.