Pari-mutuel handle was off by almost $100 million in August compared with the same month in 2009.

August is a key month with premier meets at Del Mar in California and Saratoga in New York, and this year, an enhanced meet at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. The major meets are holding their own with other tracks and wagering outlets taking the brunt of the decline.

Total wagering on United States Thoroughbred races in August 2010 was $1,119,843,513, down 8.03% from $1,217,598,852 for the same month in 2009. U.S. purses fell again—this time 7.92%–from $113,552,431 last year to $104,561,464 this year.

The Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators released Sept. 3 by Equibase reflect a setback. In July of this year, total handle was down only 1.96% from the previous July, and purses off only 0.50%, offering some hope of a turnaround.

Through the first eight months of 2010, wagering on U.S. races totaled $8,134,192,037, down 7.27% from the $8,771,944,061 total for the same period last year. Purses totaled $690,761,655, down 5.15% from $728,283,682 last year. Race days totaled 3,838, down 6.73% from 4,115 in 2009.

There was some good news – horsemen are getting more per dollar wagered. From January-August 2010, purses totaled 8.49% of total handle. For the same period in 2009, that figure was 8.30%.