Racing numbers continue to decline across the nation

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?

6 thoughts on “Racing numbers continue to decline across the nation

  1. Economics are directing that racing lower the cost of making a bet and become competitive with other forms of gambling.

    Are any Racing Managers listening?

  2. Art

    You have come close to the root cause of racing’s problems. Although I am not sure all owners get in the game for the purse money, it is a reasonable assumption. Before we assume that greater purses will save our game, lets consider the fan base. Owners and “whales” evolve from the fan base. As the fan base erodes so does the pool of interested owners and players. Lets try to get more people interseted in our game and see what happens. Imagine if just 1% of the crowd at the Belmont Stakes were “matured” to be “sustainable fans”. Just imagine if that target was replicated on every premier racing day across the country what our sport might look like in five years. So as we try to build handle and purses, lets not forget about the fan base that drives it all.

    Michael Amo

  3. People don’t want to lose their hard earned money quickly, and it doesn’t matter what the field size is. The takeout wipes people out too quickly. You send a horseplayer home too fast, they won’t return too quickly and they won’t bring friends.

    Bob, I’d rather bet on claiming races than allowance races, so claiming races don’t hurt the game, in fact they bring in new owners, and smaller owners and partnerships. They are needed for growth.

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