Of the four partner online outlets, TVG handled the most with $5,781,154, a 53% increase over last year’s $3,780,183. Their daily average was $186,488. Twinspires, with a 50% increase over January last year, took in $2,899,579 in wagers compared with $1,924,191. Xpress, third overall, handled $1,511,187 versus $1,076,650 — up 40% — while NYRABets, newest of the four, saw an 82% gain with $498,510 over last January’s $272,875.
Grand thoroughbred handle tally for the month was $9,591,579 while $1,098,851 was wagered on standardbreds. Both totals are up by 53 and 35% respectively.
A total of $2,440,868 was also wagered last month at the eight in-state Off Track Betting (OTB) Centers. Five are located in Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in New Kent, Richmond, Hampton, Vinton and Dumfries. The other three are located in restaurant/bars in Henrico (Breakers Sports Grille), Chesapeake (Buckets Bar & Grill), and Collinsville (The Windmill OTB Sports Grill).
Buckets recorded the highest handle of the eight with $513,206 while Breakers was next with $505,400. The most popular thoroughbred tracks, by betting handle, were Gulfstream Park ($417,222), Tampa Bay Downs ($218,263) and Aqueduct ($200,396). The top harness track was Northfield Park at $102,832.
Interest in racing should only increase as the Kentucky Derby prep race season heads into full swing. The last Saturday of this month, February 27, features two stellar stakes for three-year-olds. The $300,000 Fountain of Youth (Gr. 2) is one of eight graded events on the card at Miami’s Gulfstream Park while the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (Gr. 3) — pushed back to this date due to weather — is complemented by the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (Gr. 3).
Things heat up even more in March. A trio of Derby preps are on tap March 6 including the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Gr. 2), $300,000 Gotham Stakes (Gr. 3) at Aqueduct and the $300,000 San Felipe (Gr. 2) at Santa Anita. Each of the three host tracks has also loaded up on powerful under cards. Tampa has the Grade 2 Hillsborough and Grade 3 Challenger, Aqueduct presents the Grade 3 Tom Foolery and Santa Anita hosts a pair of Grade I’s — the Frank Kilroe Mile and Santa Anita Handicap — and the Grade 2 San Carlos.
The $1 million Rebel (Gr. 2) at Oaklawn takes place the following Saturday with a four pack of under card stakes including the Grade 2 Azeri and $500,000 Essex Handicap. Santa Anita hosts the Grade I Beholder Mile the same afternoon.
Fair Grounds plays host to the $1 million Louisiana Derby (Gr. 2) and a trio of other Grade 2 stakes on March 27. The Fair Grounds Oaks, New Orleans Classic and Muniz Memorial Classic will all appear on that card.
The month closes out with the big Florida Derby card at Gulfstream on March 27. A total of ten stakes will be on the program that day including the Grade 2 Pan American and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks.