The good news of January’s rise in nationwide handle versus 2014 was more than offset by a flood of cancellations and bad weather in February, according to data released by Equibase.

February handle declined nearly four percent versus the same month a year ago, and for the first two months of the year, it is down about one percent versus last year.  The number of races run nationwide also fell, by about three percent, to 2,341; and purses dipped by 2.5 percent versus February 2014.

Perhaps the major good news is that the number of starters per race — a number that in the long run is strongly correlated with increased wagering — was, at about 8.1, nearly five percent higher than a year ago. ┬áThat marked the second straight month in which the number was above eight, and the second straight month in which it was higher than last year.

The data includes worldwide commingled wagering on U.S. races

[su_table]
IndicatorFeb. 2015Pct. Change vs. 2014
Wagering$763,403,451-3.66%
Purses$60,854,668-2.57%
Races2,341-2.98%
Starts18,972+1.61%
[/su_table]

YEAR-TO-DATE FIGURES

[su_table]
Indicator2015 totalPct. Change vs. 2014
Wagering$1,575,985,375-1.06%
Purses$126,881,597-2.19%
Races4,888-2.86%
Starts40,144+2.26%
[/su_table]