Wagering once again dipped in August 2014 versus the same month a year ago, though the drop was small.

Total wagering on US races, including worldwide commingled wagering, fell just 0.37 percent, to about $1.14 billion, according to Equibase Company.  That left year-to-date wagering off by about 1.7 percent, at $7.54 billion.

Race days and races were also down in August versus a year ago, by about one percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.  Purses, meanwhile, rose just less than one percent, to over $124 million.

All in all, the August numbers paint a picture that’s become distressingly familiar to those in racing: that of an industry struggling to find its economic footing.  Total parimutuel handle reached a high of $15.18 billion in 2003 but has fallen in eight of the 10 subsequent years, through 2013, with a total drop of more than 28 percent, to less than $11 billion.

What’s more, the latest report includes additional data sure to trouble racing leaders.  The number of starters per race — which strongly correlates with wagering activity — is off nearly three percent from last year; the average this year is about 7.54, down from 7.76.  With the foal crop having dropped for eight consecutive years through 2013 — from 35,047 in 2005 to an estimated 21,275 last year — that problem is sure to get worse before it gets better.


[table id=86 /]


[table id=85 /]