Online Betting Handle Up 42% In 2021 So Far; Major Derby Prep Races Are On Deck

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.

Each Rosie’s has an OTB area which features live simulcasting from up to 20 tracks on a daily basis.

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. 

The Windmill Sports Grill in Collinsville is a Virginia Bets OTB. The others are at Buckets (Chesapeake) and Breakers (Henrico).

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.

Bob Baffert’s Authentic won the Kentucky Derby September 5, 2020. The 2021 edition will be May 1. Photo by Coady Photography.

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).