A couple weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of statistical sampling to get an early view on the pari-mutuel revenue impact associated with the terrible press Thoroughbred racing has been getting in America. Proper sampling techniques provide trend insight into issues long before many people even know issues exist. As a result, I conducted a study on my own, utilizing publicly available pari-mutuel data.
I compared available data (certain racetracks do not publish data) by racetrack and exactly compared daily pari-mutuel revenues from this year to last year making sure only same days were utilized. In other words, the second Saturday in May this year was May 11th. The second Saturday in May last year was May 12th. These two comparable days were utilized, as were all the others studied. For example at Pimlico, where the Preakness will be run this coming Saturday, a $1.327M total handle was secured last Sunday. A $1.891M total handle was taken in on the same comparable Sunday last year. (A 30% drop off on that particular day.)
In aggregate, utilizing comparative days at the same racetracks as indicated, I am finding what I expected. There has been a steep decline in pari-mutuel revenue over the last month and this decline seems to have been exacerbated by the disqualification of Maximum Security in the Derby. I have found a 12.2% decline in total revenues where it can be comparatively measured!
Trouble has been brewing in racing for years and that's why inflation adjusted pari-mutuel revenue is only 60% (about half) of what it was just 15 years ago, but these double digit one year declines have never been seen before. Maybe this is temporary but I wouldn't bet on it.
In closing, facts are stubborn things but apparently not as stubborn as the "Ancients" who control American Racing and refuse to re-engineer their product to conform to consumer desires!
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.