According to statistics released Monday by Equibase, daily average wagering and average purses per race day each saw significant increases in the period from Jan. 31-Mar. 31, 2021 when compared to the same time frame in 2020.
Total wagering in the three-month period was reported at $2.776 billion, an increase of 10.27% over last year, with daily average wagering at $3,611,092, which represented a 14.15% improvement from 12 months ago. Nearly $215 million in purses were disbursed from January through March, some 4.6% better than last year, with several tracks offering multiple purse increases during their meets. Average purses per race day for the first quarter was $280,677, up 8.45% from 2020.
While the number of live racing days (766) was down 3.4% this year versus last, the number of races staged (6,702) and number of starts (52,211) were fractionally higher. The corresponding figures for the month of March alone showed even more dramatic increases, as the impacts of the coronavirus on racing began to increase in March 2020. A total of 292 U.S. race days took place (+36.45%) encompassing 2,563 races (+43.42%) and 19,452 starts (+39.75). Average field size of 7.59 was off 2.56% from March 2020, while average wagering per race day over just over $3.3 million represented a 3.25% decline over 2020. Average daily purse money in March was $280,129, an improvement of 7.48% from last year.