Breeders Cup betting falls

businessman looking at falling chart

The total betting take at this year’s Breeders Cup held on Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, fell by around 1.8 percent on last year’s figures, despite the fact that this year’s meeting saw an additional race on the card.

The total revenue for the 2018 edition of $133.0 million was a reversal of the trend that saw two consecutive years of revenue gains at the Breeders’ Cup, which had resulted in a record $135.5 million in revenue in 2017. This year’s meeting included a new race: the Juvenile Turf Sprint, and there was another change in the race order, with all five 2-year-old races held on Friday.

In addition, the Saturday races were run three hours earlier than they had been in the last two years, as Churchill Downs is in the Eastern time zone of the US, unlike the previous two host tracks at Del Mar and Santa Anita. According to the Breeders Cup organisers, the total take for betting on the 12-race card on Saturday was $105.2 million, which is down 7.5 percent on last year’s Saturday card.

The reason for the decline in betting revenue is not clear, and it goes against the recent trend for increasing horse racing betting activity in the US, caused partly by changes to tax-reporting rules at the end of 2017, that were favourable to regular horse racing bettors.

No obvious pattern

There was no obvious pattern in the betting money taken across the races over the two days, nor in the size of the races. A total of 176 horses took part this year, with an average field size of 12.6, which is little different to last year’s average of 12.2 horses per race. There was a notable drop in betting on the opening races, however, which may have reflected the earlier start time.

There was better news on the spectator front. The track was able to announce an attendance figure of 70,423 on Saturday , which was an 8.1 percent increase on the Saturday attendance the last time the Breeders Cup came to the Louisville track, back in 2011.

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