Handle in US Thoroughbred racing will be down about $50 million, or 6% in November. When looking at October and November together (to standardize the Breeders' Cup handle, which was up slightly, year over year), it's down about 2%. Down 2% is about the mean monthly handle losses in 2014.
The story is much deeper than that, however. The allocations of racedates, by track, are different in 2014 than they were in 2013 over that period.
In Canada, where there were 17 tracks in Ontario, the track numbers were culled, mainly due to the loss of slots. Out of the 17 tracks, only eight or nine did proper handle, the rest were an afterthought with bettors. The thought was, if racedates were taken from the small handle tracks and given to higher handle tracks - those with better racing, more of a following and better signal distribution - it should result in more handle. That occurred. In 2013, racedates were off close to 20%, per race handle was up greater than 20%, and overall handle was up. For the harness racing tracks in 2014, this has continued, with an increase of 12.4% handle per race, and a 3.13% overall handle rise.
In US Thoroughbred racing a similar thing occurred this fall in two main jurisdictions.
Moving dates from Hollywood to Del Mar one might expect a big bump, and that did occur. In November of 2014, abut $116 million was bet at Del Mar over 132 races. Over the same period in 2013 - with even more races, at 140 - Hollywood Park chipped in with only $103 million. It was a double digit bump, and even higher per race.
Moving dates from Calder's signal to "Gulfstream Park West" should've seen a tremendous rise as well. Gulfstream's brand and signal distribution is good, and their Rainbow Six carried on. I don't have dates distribution, but from a database (thanks CR), this year's GPW handle in October and November was $29 million, versus only $13 million over that same period last year at Calder. Another win, and another perfectly expected result.
That jump, along with the jump in handle in the Breeders' Cup should make things better year over year, just like in Ontario, should it not? It hasn't worked. Gross handles, as mentioned above, are down.
If McDonald's closed 500 money losing stores in the western world and shifted those stores to the rapid growth China market, where people are going crazy for McRib's, one would expect their gross sales to rise. If that did not happen, they might want to look into their product or other factors, because something is terribly wrong. Horse racing probably needs to analyze the exact same thing because that's exactly what seems to be happening.
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