A total horse racing handle of $9,450,356 was wagered by Virginians via four online wagering partner companies in the month of February, a sizeable boost over the $7,093,550 recorded for the same month a year ago. The upward trend of online activity has continued into the new year, after 2020 saw a 56.4% increase in business.
TVG led the way in February with a handle of $5,239,968. When added to January’s $5.7 million figure, they are up 45.9% over the same two-month period from a year ago. Twin Spires, up 34% during the same time frame, handled $2,472,071 in February while Xpressbet, up 38.03%, took in monthly wagers totaling $1,362,762. NYRABets, newest of the four Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) services to do business in the Commonwealth, handled $375,553 and their combined two-month tally of $874,064 is a 73% boost from last year.
The overall two-month handle total was $20,140,787 compared with $14,147,851 in 2020, a 42% rise. Interestingly, both the thoroughbred and harness handle have grown proportionately at the same 42% figure.
In person wagering did well too. The eight simulcast centers at Colonial Downs’ Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums and VA Horseplay OTBs combined to handle $4,926,972 during the first two months. Buckets Bar & Grill in Chesapeake led the way with $1,094,939 and Breakers Sports Grille in Henrico was next with $1,003,862.
An uptick in handle should continue as the next month features key Kentucky Derby prep races most every weekend, leading up to the “Run for the Roses” on May 1.
The $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby (Gr. 2) is next on March 20 at Fair Grounds, which has a trio of Grade 2 stakes on the under card.
Gulfstream Park will host ten stakes in a massive program on March 27 highlighted by the Grade I Florida Derby. The same day, Turfway Park holds their big Derby prep — the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes (Gr. 3) — along with five others. And the Dubai World Cup card takes place that morning from Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. Two Virginia owned horses — Extravagant Kid (David Ross) and True Valour (Larry Johnson) — will compete there at 9:30 AM (EDT) in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint (Gr. I) at six furlongs on the straight. The World Cup post is 12:15 PM.
The biggest race day of 2021 to date will take place on April 3 when a trio of major preps occur. The $750,000 Wood Memorial (Gr. 2) is at Aqueduct along with four other graded stakes. Keeneland hosts the $800,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Gr. 2) and five additional graded events. And the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (Gr. I) headlines out west, and they have five other stakes programmed.
The final Derby prep is the following Saturday, April 10, when Oaklawn hosts the $1 million Arkansas Derby (Gr. I).