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The Bet is Sleepy

Crunk noted August's handle on his twitter feed yesterday. Races were down by about 450 races, and handle was about flat (up 0.5%). There was one fewer weekend day. This has pretty much been the story this year.

What makes August's handle a bit blech, is that Saratoga, Del Mar and Gulfstream make up a bigger percentage of racedates than in the past; and that's where the handle is. As well, Saratoga has had a perfect storm of good fortune this summer - few days off the turf, perfect weather, and a Triple Crown champ on national TV for the Travers (in fact, Pharoah raced two times in August to much fanfare). Del Mar, who had an atrocious meet last year has also been blessed with no turf or main track issues.

I was one of those folks who believed fewer racedates, done correctly, could increase handles overall. This was the case when Ontario got rid of slots a few years ago. The poorer meets were culled, and handle was up over 20%, with a simultaneous racedate reduction of 20%. This just has not occurred.

Last September was terrible, with handle down over 10%. It was surmised at that time that bigger players were leaving the pools, because of signal fee issues. We'd hope to see a nice bump this September, because those players seem to be back. Even if that happens, handle has been remarkably poor this year. This in a year when racedates were being optimized in some form, and, of course, the sport has had thousands of free column inches (and the like) with a Triple Crown champion.

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