The numbers have been flying around the web of late.
One, which no one can be happy with is the numbers out West. Santa Anita has had a poor start. Ray Paulick looked at the numbers here, and replied: "The only Santa Anita numbers reflecting an increase are track records and horse ambulance runs"
The numbers thus far have not been good, however time will tell. One caution, and we hope that industry watchers remember this: Santa Anita will be on a four day week this week, and comparing that to a five day last year is problematic. It's what was done with Los Alamitos here, which tried to make these charts look "positive" (they cut dates and compared "handle per date". And we know that is not correct, or good for the industry.
What we want to see is this: If dates go down (in this case almost cut in half), it is best that overall handle goes up. Per race is inconsequential.
"In 2009, the 141 T-bred race dates were split between Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands Racetrack, and, according to the brisnet.com report, total handle rang in at $354,867,156. In 2010, with nearly 50 per cent fewer race dates and racing consolidated at Monmouth, the total handle was $477,375,167."
Overall handle numbers are out for 2010: The industry lost 7.3% last year.
According to the Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released by Equibase, commingled wagering on all U.S. racing last year totaled $11.4 billion, compared with $12.3 billion in 2009. U.S. purses totaled $1.02 billion in 2010, down 6.1% from $1.09 billion the previous year.
If we would have only held the rate of inflation the last decade, we would be somewhere north of $20B last time we checked.
Some good news though - some tracks had handle gains. Charles Town, Woodbine, among others.
As much as I was a fan of the three day racing week at Monmouth Park, a key factor was the fact that the Elite Summer Meet featured 11 or 12 races per day.
This is something that California racing cannot do.
The concept of going to a four day racing week in January and February is like putting the cart before the horse.
The racing stock (without fail) becomes worn out in the later stages of the SoCal meets. That is when the four day weeks would be best. Instead they're planning to extend to 5 racing days per week during March and April.
Field sizes are sure to become depleted and the handle figures will certainly take a hit because of this "incorrect" plan.
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