Total wagering on the 14 Breeders’ Cup races held on Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita Park in Southern California set a record, increasing nearly 12 percent over the total amount bet for a 14-race card at Churchill Downs in 2018, according to charts of the races.
Total handle was $152.5 million on the 14 races, up 11.9 percent over the $136.3 million bet last year on 14 races, according to the charts. This was the second year in a row that Breeders’ Cup ran 14 races, with five races for juveniles held on Friday and the remaining nine races, capped by the Classic, run on Saturday. Breeders’ Cup added a 14th race, the Juvenile Turf Sprint, in 2018.
Full-card handle for both race cards at Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday was a record $174.60 million, according to the charts, just edging the record handle of $173.86 million for two cards run at Churchill Downs in 2010. The 2010 event included 14 Breeders’ Cup races as well, although Breeders’ Cup later dropped one of the races, the Marathon, from its lineup.
Breeders’ Cup typically releases official handle numbers after the Saturday card concludes. The organization had not yet released official wagering figures as of Monday morning.
This year’s Saturday races were run approximately three hours later than the Saturday races last year, a major factor in the handle gains. Friday’s races were run approximately one hour later than last year. Weather conditions on both days at Santa Anita were warm and sunny, with the main track rated fast and the turf course rated firm.
Handle for the five Breeders’ Cup races run on Friday was up 9.3 percent compared to last year, to $41.71 million. Handle for the nine Breeders’ Cup races run on Saturday was up 12.8 percent compared to last year, to $110.80 million, according to the charts.
A total of 163 horses ran in the 14 races, for an average field size of 11.6 horses per race. Last year, 176 horses ran in the 14 races, for an average field size of 12.6 horses.
Saturday handle numbers were especially strong in the straight and single-race exotic pools, with the exception of the Classic, where betting in the straight pools and exacta, trifecta, and superfecta pools were all down single digits. However, significant gains in several multi-leg pools, including the pick five and pick six pools, drove the Classic’s total wagering numbers to a record of $34.3 million. This year’s Classic had 11 runners, compared to 14 last year.
With a carryover of $436,837 from Friday, the pick six handle of $5.21 million on Saturday was just short of a record for a pick six held on the Breeders’ Cup races. In 2010, handle on the pick six was $5.24 million. Last year’s pick six handle was $2.02 million.
The pick five handle this year was $4.96 million, while a pick four ending in the Classic drew $3.43 million in bets.
Attendance for the Friday card was 41,243, while attendance on Saturday was 67,811, according to Breeders’ Cup.
At the most recent running of the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, in 2016, total wagering for 13 Breeders’ Cup races was $128.11 million.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.