Overall wagering handle on all US Thoroughbred races in June 2019 fell back by 6.99 percent, according to newly released figures from Equibase.

Triple Crown trophy
The Triple Crown trophy went unclaimed this year and US racing handle suffered financially as betting handle dropped. (Image: AP)

Equibase is the sports statistical record keeper for entries, results, breeding and a wide variety of other analytics related to the sport.

Statistics further reveal a 3.01 percent fall off in the second quarter and a 3.22 percent decline for the first six months of the year compared to 2018.

Equibase says in June $74.5 million less was bet than in 2018 —specifically  $1,065,526,949 in 2018 diminishing to $991,001,055 in 2019. That produces a cumulative decline of $189.1 million for the first six months of the year.

Triple Crown Unjustifed? 

The lack of a Triple Crown possibility in 2019 is being held as largely responsible for the drop off, accounting for about half of the total shortfall for the first six months of this year. In 2018, Justify’s brilliance in sweeping the Kentucky Derby and Preakness bolstered interest in the Belmont Stakes.

This year, with the unheralded Sir Winston winning the Belmont Stakes, racing that day (June 8) dipped by about $36 million from nearly $138 million in 2018 to just over $102 million. Neither official Derby winner Country House or Maximum Security, first under the wire, but disqualified to 17th for interference were entered in the Preakness or Belmont Stakes.

In 2019 three different horses won each leg of the Triple Crown races. Only Mark Casse’s War of Will competed in each leg of the lucrative series for three-year-olds.

Purses Up, Betting Down

Industry observers are also noting that another contributing element to the wagering decline for the first half of 2019 is the considerable upheaval the sport is undergoing in Southern California.

At historic Santa Anita, near Los Angeles, an upturn in equine injuries resulting in horse euthanizations prompted several weeks of cancellations. Then, with increased scrutiny from track management in the form of increasing veterinary supervision and additional wide-ranging safety procedures fewer horse were allowed to enter and race. The resulting diminishing inventory of horses certified to compete producing shorter race weeks at Santa Anita.

Purses are up by 5.51 percent for the first half of the year, despite less overall handle. Total races and race days are also up minimally, despite Santa Anita’s truncated schedule. However, field size, a crucial factor in generating handle, is down on average by 2.23 percent — 7.63 to 7.46 —  year to date, through June.

For an in depth look at US handle data since 1990 click here.

June 2019 vs. June 2018

June 2019

June 2018

% Change
Wagering on US Races* $991,001,055 $1,065,526,949


US Purses




US Race Days



No  Change
US Races




US Starts




Average Field Size




Average Wagering Per Race Day




Average Purses Per Race Day





Q2 2019 vs. Q2 2018

Category 2nd QTR 2019 2nd QTR 2018 % Change
Wagering on U.S. Races* $3,140,726,476 $3,238,194,342


U.S. Purses




U.S. Race Days




U.S. Races




U.S. Starts




Average Field Size




Average Wagering Per Race Day




Average Purses Per Race Day





YTD 2019  vs. YTD 2018


YTD 2019

YTD 2018

% Change
Wagering on US Races*




US Purses




US Race Days




US Races




US Starts




Average Field Size




Average Wagering Per Race Day




Average Purses Per Race Day





* Includes worldwide commingled wagering on US races.