Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Good News, Bad News

The word from the Keeneland September Sale has been uniquely positive as far as the amount of money to be used to purchase the horses available at the sale. In 2010, the sale lasted fourteen days and the gross total of income from the sale was $198,254,900. The on-going 2011 sale is through eight days as of this writing and already the gross has exceeded last year's number with income at $198,638,200, according to DRF.com. Clearly, the Keeneland September Sale is going to shatter last year's number of gross income by a nice margin with just five days left to go. It can be said that this is certainly a rare positive sign as far as the economics of the Thoroughbred business goes. Usually, all you hear is doom and gloom as the handle, attendance, and sales figures plummet from one year to the next. This increase at Keeneland certainly shouldn't be interpreted as everything is rosy and sunshiny, but it certainly should be read as a rare shaft of light in what is otherwise a very dark time for the industry.

Meanwhile, in his column on ESPN. com, Bill Finley notes that The Jockey Club reports that the 2010 foal crop is down 13.5%, the total being approximately 27,000. Finley goes on to note that will only continue the problem of small field size that has been a near-epidemic in the sport in recent years. Unfortunately, that is true. It is simple mathematics that you cannot continue to have large fields with excellent betting opportunities if the horses just aren't there to participate. Without excellent betting opportunities, fewer and fewer bettors will be trying to hit that big score and the handle across the country should continue to reflect that with lessening numbers. As I said in the earlier paragraph, we are in the midst of a very dark time for the industry, you can take the attitude that things are darkest before the dawn, but these foal numbers indicate that dawn might still be quite a long way away.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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