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Horse Racing Attendance Facts,..... or Myths?

Monmouth was humming on Father's Day with attendance up over 5,000 from last year.  The prevailing reason given - and it makes sense since the lineups were long - was the introduction of sports betting.

With all those people with stuffed wallets looking to wager, it's supposed to be a good thing for horse racing (an on-track handle did have a little bump). But, overall handle was down over 28% per entry. 

Meanwhile, over at Churchill, Triple Crown winner Justify was paraded on Saturday. And it was reported the attendance - 21,053 - was through the roof to see him. However, on the same evening last year, the attendance was 20,669.

20,000 people at a hockey game is good. 20,000 people in the Arkansas Derby infield are a different kettle of fish. Their net worth is not from $100 seats; it comes from what they wager, and they don't wager much.

The 500 extra people (let's be generous and say it was 2,000) to see a Triple Crown winner at Churchill Saturday are, sadly, not worth a heck of a lot. The extra 5,000 or so people at Monmouth there to sports bet aren't worth much either.

It's curious to me that horse racing places so much stock in attendance numbers, and tries to develop policy based on driving them, rather than focusing on what does bring in the most money - more betting.

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