The financial indicators for thoroughbred racing in the United States continue to slump, according to numbers released by Equibase this week.
Wagering on races in the U.S. fell 8.27 percent in May compared to May 2009. The size of purses dipped 4.82 percent and the number of U.S. race days decreased by 5.85 percent.
For the first five months of 2010, compared to the first five months of last year, wagering in this country fell 8.37 percent, purses dropped 6.68 percent and the number of racing days fell 6.84 percent.
I don’t have a problem with the falloff in the number of racing days. I’ve maintained for a long time now that there’s too much racing and it’s diluting the product. But we should be very concerned about the continued drop in handle and purse sizes.
I believe handle continues to fall because too many times the product is weak. Fans don’t want to take their hard-earned money out to the race track and bet on five, six and seven-horse fields. There is just no value.
The sport is not attracting new owners because the purses continue to fall. With rising training costs and declining purses, why would anyone want to get into the game except to use as a tax write-off?