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The 2023 Breeders’ Cup Handle Was Down, But Attendance Up At Santa Anita 

Written By Katarina Vojvodic | Updated:
Irad Ortiz Jr. Reacts To Winning 2023 Breeders' Cup Classic Horse Race with Breeders' Cup logo

The first weekend of November featured a busy sports schedule, including one of the biggest horse racing events of the year. The 40th annual 2023 Breeders’ Cup took place on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.

Although the Breeders Cup 2023 handle was down compared to two previous years, the attendance was up. Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming said in the company’s news release:

“Racing fans here and from around the world were treated to two days of the very best of our sport, including three repeat champions.

The 40th running of the Breeders’ Cup was certainly worthy of the vision of its founders, who set out to create one of the most prestigious international events in our sport.”

Attendance and betting handle at the 11th Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita

As Breeders’ Cup Limited announced, the total all-sources, global common-pool handle for the two-day event was $176,281,989. Of that total:

  • Total common-pool handle on Saturday’s 12-race Breeders’ Cup card was $114,145,050
  • All-sources common-pool handle on Breeders’ Cup’s 10-race ‘Future Stars Friday’ card was $62,136,939 (without Friday’s All-Turf Pick 3 special)

The on-track horse betting handle for the two days was $19,419,844. To get the bigger picture, here’ how this year’s attendance and handle at the Breeders’ Cup compare to previous years:

  • 2023 Santa Anita: attendance 109,624, handle $176,281,989
  • 2022 Keeneland: attendance 85,824, handle $189,060,373
  • 2021 Del Mar: attendance 47,089, handle $182,908,409
  • 2020 Keeneland: no attendance reported due to COVID-19, handle $160,472,893
  • 2019 Santa Anita: attendance 118,484, handle $156,861,811
  • 2018 Churchill Downs: attendance 112,672, handle $157,445,841

While all-sources betting on the two days of horse racing declined from $189 million to $176.3 million, attendance during a record 11 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita jumped from 85,824 to 109,624, with:

  • Saturday’s attendance 66,247
  • Friday’s attendance 43,377

This year’s attendance is the highest after 112,672 in 2018 at Churchill Downs.

No horse fatalities during the Breeders’ Cup 2023

According to an article at BloodHorseAidan Butler, the Chief Operating Officer of 1/ST Racing and Gaming which operates Santa Anita, said:

“Everything was brilliant. It was so nice to see Santa Anita with such big crowds and so much positivity. There was some really good racing. It was great to enjoy a spectacle like the Breeders’ Cup and when I watched the races I understood why we do this for a living.”

Butler also emphasized there were no fatalities during the two days of racing contested in front of large on-track crowds and a national TV audience:

“We needed a safe run this weekend and when we do it right, this is the best sport. It was so nice to have a couple days of great, safe racing. All horses are special and we have to make the races as safe as possible.”

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships will return to Southern California next year. The 41st edition will be held Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Photo by Mark J. Terrill / AP Photo; illustrated by PlayUSA
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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