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Friday, April 9, 2004
NEWS RELEASE


WAGERING INCREASES SLIGHTLY IN FIRST-QUARTER 2004

Peggy Hendershot, NTRA (859) 422-2648
Rhonda Norby, Equibase (859) 224-2856


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and Equibase Company LLC today released the first-quarter “Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators” for United States and Canadian pari-mutuel wagering on U.S. Thoroughbred racing in 2004, as well as for U.S. purses and race days, with prior-year comparisons.
Total wagering increased marginally, despite a 3.62 percent drop in the number of racing days. Compared with first-quarter 2003, a total of 45 fewer racing days were run during first-quarter 2004, primarily due to weather-related cancellations of more than 30 full race cards in January and by the fall of days on the March calendar, which had only four weekends this year compared to five in 2003. Purses dipped by just over one percent.
“The fact that handle increased with a four percent decline in racing days is positive,” said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. “However, the continuation of the ‘handle up, purses down’ phenomenon, which we first saw last year, remains a significant concern.”
The NTRA’s Wagering Systems Task Force, Smith noted, is currently conducting “an intensive review of recent wagering data, trends and other pertinent facts” to determine the extent to which such factors as simulcast signal piracy, illegal off-shore wagering, betting exchanges and the growth of rebating operations may be contributing to the purse level declines.

Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators (First-Quarter 2004 versus 2003)

Indicator
2004
2003
% Change
Wagering on U.S. Races
$3,690,586,800
$3,535,728,707
+0.67
U.S. Purses
$206,731,875
$208,841,288
-1.01
U.S. Race Days
1,197
1,242
-3.62


Equibase Company is a partnership between The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America (TRA) and serves as the Thoroughbred industry’s Official database for racing information and statistics. Through its Web site, equibase.com, the Company offers an ever-increasing menu of racing information, statistics and handicapping products for everyone from the casual fan to the most experienced handicapper.
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horseracing interests, including the American Quarter Horse Association, charged with increasing popularity of horseracing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA and Breeders’ Cup Limited also administer the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships consisting of eight races and $14 million in purses and awards and the Breeders’ Cup Stakes Program. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and at the Web site for the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, breederscup.com.