Wagering Does An About Face, Increases In March

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After wagering dropped by a troubling 6.22% through the first two months of the year, the sport rebounded in March. According to figures released Thursday by Equibase, handle was up 2.14% during the month when compared to 2022. A total of $962,703,949 was wagered in March. In the category of average wagering per race day, there was an increase of 1.10%.

Handle is still down by 3.40% for the year.

The advances reversed a trend that began in October of last year. Handle fell by 4.93% in October and continued to drop over the next four months. From October through February, handle fell by a total of $263,808,165, for a decline of 5.8%.

The decline in handle has not affected purses, which continue to benefit from slot machines, historical horse racing and other non-racing sources. Total purses paid out in March added up to $94,783,996 for an increase of 9.16%. Through the first three months of the year, over $266 million in purses have been paid out, which represents an increase of 8.70%.

The numbers for average field size have kept pace with 2022 figures. The average field size for the year has been 7.59 starters per race, for an increase of 0.48%. And though many tracks have contracted their racing schedules in recent years, 6,977 races were run during the first three months of the year for an increase of 3.09%.

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