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US horse racing wagers down just 1 percent in 2020

5 Jan 2021

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that caused shutdowns to most racetracks in the spring of 2020 and overall economic conditions largely not seen since the Great Depression, wagering on U.S. Thoroughbred races was essentially flat in 2020, while wagering per race day showed a large spike.

A total of $10,925,226,444 was bet in 2020, down just 0.98% from the sum of $11,033,824,363 wagered in 2019. The number of race days dropped 25.38% to 3,302 from 4,425 in 2019, meaning average handle per race day was up an eye-popping 32.69%, from $2,493,520 to $3,308,669 in 2020. A total of 27,700 races were conducted, down 23.50% from 36,207 in 2019.

Field size also rose in 2020, from 7.53 starters per race to 7.94, a significant uptick of 5.51%. Purses dropped all the way from from $1,167,920,667 in 2019 to $869,774,080 in 2020, a 25.53% decrease, however average purses per race day were essentially flat, going from $263,937 in 2019 to $263,408 in 2020.
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