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.
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