By Jim Freer and Barry Unterbrink
Gulfstream Park is not open for general spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but from off-track sources such as Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) it still had an impressive $11,772,202 in total handle on eleven races on Sunday.
That number is from Equibase's chart on Gulfstream's races. HorseRacingFLA's review of that data shows that the Hallandale Beach, Fla., track is keeping pace in handle with its 2019-2020 championship meet, when it allowed spectators from early December through mid-March.
Gulfstream's average daily handle was approximately $9.1 million for 19 race days through this past Sunday Dec, 27. Through Dec. 29, 2019 that average for 22 race days was approximately $8.9 million.
Our review shows that Gulfstream's average daily handle for its 2019-2020 championship meet, which ended March 29, was $11.3 million-its best ever for a race meet.
Gulfstream and Equibase do not routinely provide breakdowns of how much handle is on-track and how much is from various off-track components.
However, it should be noted that Gulfstream's significant growth in handle, amid the industry's slight handle decline, took place during a year when the ADW share of betting on U.S. thoroughbred races shot up from about 40 percent to about 70 percent.
Betting on ADWs has grown in tandem with Gulfstream's handle, and it appears that ADWs have been a very large part of Gulfstream's increases. This month, ADWs probably are making up for the vast majority of its temporary loss of on-track bets.
An ADW is linked to a client's bank account to provide funds for betting.
Among the largest ADWs are: 1/ST BET, owned by The Stronach Group which also owns Gulfstream; Twinspires, owned by Churchill Downs Inc.: TVG, owned by Flutter Inc.: and DRF Bets, owned by Daily Racing Form.
The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, a Lexington, Ky.-based research group, pointed us to this data:
For those six months this year, Gulfstream's total handle soared to about $1.02 billion. That is a per day average of $9.6 million over 107 race days.