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Growth in Average Daily Purses Among U.S. Tracks

MarketWatch: Top 10 tracks by percentage increase

 

Changes made in 2017 to federal tax withholding and reporting on winning pari-mutuel wagers was expected to boost overall handle figures by promoting more churn through the windows. Higher churn was then expected to boost purses, which are fueled largely from a percentage of wagering.

Expectations came to fruition, with Equibase reporting growth in both United States purses and handle reported for 2018. Wagering increased 3.3% to more than $11.26 billion and purses grew 3.5% to more than $1.11 billion.

Just how deeply were racetracks affected by this growth?

Significantly, according to an annual review of average daily purses compiled per track by BloodHorse MarketWatch. Look for a complete breakdown in the Feb. 16 issue of BloodHorse magazine. In the meantime, MarketWatch wanted to see which of the larger race meets saw the biggest increases in average daily purse between 2017 and 2018.

Our annual purse review includes racetracks that ran at least five live dates and paid gross purses of $100,000 or more. These criteria fit 84 racetracks in 2017, of which 46 (55%) reported an increase in average daily purses compared with 2016. In 2018, 80 racetracks met the criteria and of these 50 (62.5%) reported an increase in average daily purse.

Among racetracks running 50 or more days of live racing, Delta Downs reported the largest increase in average daily purse—a 32% increase to $273,809. Since 2001, Delta Downs has had the benefit of slots machines to enhance purses. The top 10 racetracks by percent increase in average daily purse include only two that do not offer any kind of alternative gambling. Those who reported growth without the benefit of slot machines or card tables are Arlington International Racecourse, up 14%, and Golden Gate Fields, up 7.9%.

Arlington was able to increase its purses in 2018 due to an underpayment in the 2017 purse account and because state lawmakers approved more than $1.6 million for owners awards and stakes races, according to the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders Fund. Arlington paid an average $239,114 in purses last year, which apparently helped raise field size slightly from 7.23 starters per race to 7.46.

Golden Gate Fields was reportedly able to grow its handle by separating its post times from the biggest races across the country, racing secretary Patrick Mackey told the San Francisco Chronicle last August. With bettors more engaged due to the changes in withholding and some additional help from bad weather and cancellations in the East, Golden Gate was able to increase its out-of-state handle by 48% and bolster its total handle by 18%.

“We had competitive races for leading rider and trainer, and not a lot of races with 1-5 or 2-5 shots winning,” Mackey told the Chronicle. “The days of (trainer) Jerry (Hollendorfer) and (jockey) Russell (Baze) winning every race at 2-5 are gone. It’s a different product where you can find betting value. When you have gamblers behind you, they keep coming back.”

 

Leading Racetracks by % Increase in Avg. Daily Purse, ‘17-’18

Includes racetracks running 50 or more live race dates in 2018

Track (State)

’18 Dates

2018 Avg. Starter”

2018 Daily Avg. Purse

% Chg. Avg. ‘17-’18

2018 Gross Purse

Delta Downs (LA)

83

8.68

$273,809

32%

$22,726,110

Mahoning Valley Race Course (OH)

100

8.61

$150,644

18%

$15,064,430

Gulfstream Park (FL)

198

8.30

$469,242

17%

$92,909,925

Arlington Int’l Racecourse (IL)

71

7.46

$239,114

14%

$16,977,066

JACKS Thistledown (OH)

100

7.29

$166,986

12%

$16,698,586

Aqueduct (NY)

91

7.16

$541,328

10%

$49,260,878

Albuquerque Downs (NM)

53

8.04

$89,165

9.6%

$4,725,732

Churchill Downs (KY)

70

8.23

$567,787

9.3%

$39,745,062

Laurel Park (MD)

156

7.77

$342,471

8.9%

$53,425,438

Golden Gate Fields (CA)

150

6.93

$152,590

7.9%

$22,888,444

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LTBA To Boost Louisiana Cup Purses

July 19, 2018

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association announced today that they are adding $10,000 to the purse of each Louisiana Cup Stakes race boosting the total purse money of each of the six stakes from $50,000 to $60,000. The Louisiana Cup stakes races for accredited Louisiana Breds will be run Saturday, August 4th at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in Bossier City. Nominations close this Saturday, July 21st.

$60,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile                    2 YO LA-Bred                        Six furlongs

$60,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies          2 YO Fillies LA-Bred             Six furlongs

$60,000 Louisiana Cup Filly & Mare Sprint  3 YO & Up F&M, LA-Bred  Six furlongs

$60,000 Louisiana Cup Sprint                        3 YO & Up LA-Bred              Six furlongs

$60,000 Louisiana Cup Turf Classic              3 YO & Up LA-Bred              1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 Louisiana Distaff                              3 YO & Up F & M LA-Bred  1 1/16 miles (T)

Also, the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association will award two (2) scholarships, each valued at $1,000, during the event.

The drawings will be between the fifth and sixth races. The races begin at 3:15 p.m. and the student must be there to register between 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. at the designated registration booth.

The requirements for the scholarship are as follows:

  • Must be a college student enrolled full-time for Fall 2018.
  • Must be in good standing with the college or university.
  • Must be present at the drawing location to win.
  • Must have university ID number or Social Security number.

The scholarship will be deposited directly into the student’s account at the college or university. The student is asked to know the name and address of the college that they are attending.

“The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association is pleased to continue making an investment in the future of our state by investing in the education process,” said Roger Heitzmann, secretary/treasurer for the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

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Lone Star Announces 2018 Purse Increase Of Up To 25 Percent On Overnight Races

Lone Star Park has announced an increase in overnight race purses for the 2018 Thoroughbred season which opens April 19. All overnight races will see an increase of $2,000 each in purse money. Some overnight race categories will see as much as a 25% gain in their purses. No race throughout the 44-day season will have less than $10,000 in purse money offered.

This is the most significant increase to Thoroughbred purses in a decade. Track officials cited handle gains in all three categories (on-track live, off-track and simulcasting) as the major source of funding for the purse increase. And with a few less race days this year the track was able to share the monies that would have been allocated to those races.

“We are proud to offer our horsemen the benefit of this increase,” said Bart Lang, Lone Star Park’s Director of Racing. “We offer the longest race meeting with the most race days and the best overnight purses in the state. Our goal this spring is to build on the gains in handle we saw last year during our Thoroughbred season.”

The stable area opens on Monday, March 19. The track will open for training on Wednesday, March 21. Official workouts will begin on Monday, March 26.

Lone Star Park looks forward to welcoming horsemen for our 2018 Thoroughbred Racing Season which runs through Sunday, July 22.

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OAKLAWN INCREASES OVERNIGHT PURSES FOR 18th STRAIGHT YEAR

Hot Springs, Ark. (Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018) – The richest purses in the Midwest just got richer.

Effective Saturday, Feb. 17, Oaklawn is increasing all allowance and maiden special weight races by $3,000. Allowance races will range from $79,000 to as high as $83,000. Maiden special weight races will increase to $78,000 from $75,000.

In addition, all claiming races and maiden claiming races with a claiming price of at least $30,000 will receive a $2,000 per race boost.
These increases mark the 18th consecutive year that Oaklawn has increased purses.

“Our goal is to offer the best purses in the country along with the most competitive racing,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “These increases are another step in that direction and our fans are responding. We are attracting some of the largest crowds in racing. And, our fans are getting to see some of the best owners, trainers and jockeys from all over the country competing for record purses. We couldn’t be more excited heading into the final two months of our season.”

Oaklawn’s Presidents’ Day card, Feb. 19, will feature the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail and the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3), which last year launched the Horse of the Year campaign of Gun Runner. The 2018 meet runs through Saturday, April 14.

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