With March here and spring approaching, we wanted to share the latest news from TOC. First and foremost, we’re about halfway through the Santa Anita Park Classic Meet and both handle and field size are up 11% year over year. Up north, Golden Gate Fields is holding its own with better-than-expected purse generation. We look forward to a tremendous Big ‘Cap weekend, Santa Anita Derby and Gold Rush Day at GGF. Summer is also just around the corner and our partners at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will be announcing its purse and stakes schedule any day. Here’s a sneak preview – purses will be higher again in 2023 for the third consecutive year.
Our new team consisting of President Bill Nader and Executive Director Jordyn Egan have hit the ground running. In just a short time they have jumped into current issues facing us, including the allocation of race dates, north summer stabling and charting a new path to additional purse supplements. They have also put together a new and fresh social media look, and prepared two owner appreciation days, including this Sunday at Santa Anita Park. Not a bad first few months and there is much more to come, including the announcement of the first ever TOC/NHC Tour, exclusive to TOC members with the winning owner earning a seat to the National Handicapping Championship in 2024.
ADW Purse Supplements / Merged Wallets
In 2020, TOC entered into an historic agreement with TVG and Xpressbet to supplement purses in 2021 and 2022. This influx allowed California to increase purses by as much as 20%. The long-term plan to keep purses at the same levels in 2023 and beyond encompassed support from the sports wagering ballot initiative and/or the positive brand effect of increased field size and handle from the new purses. While the ballot initiative failed, handle and field size have grown impressively since 2021 to cover most of the supplemental increases. That said, not every meet has improved with the benefit of the added purses. We are in discussions with our racetrack partners to adjust the purse accounts to sustainable levels at various meets such as Santa Anita Spring, Santa Anita Fall and Del Mar Fall. With the favorable market conditions, these adjustments are a new baseline as we fight to increase purses again. Even better, other meets such as the Santa Anita Classic and Del Mar Summer meets are at record levels and in good shape for the foreseeable future. The best news is in addition to a two year purse supplement, TOC negotiated a gift that will “keep on giving” mandating Fanduel implement merged wallets by 2023. Now, Fanduel online fantasy and sports wagering customers can bet on racing from their sports wagering accounts in select states. Later this year Draft Kings will also be online making California racing wagering available. By the end of the year over 20 million sports wagering customers will have the ability to wager on California racing just like any other sport in nearly 40 states. Thanks to the ADW supplement agreement, and the support of our horsemen and horsewomen, we are in a much better economic position than we were in 2020.
Race Date Allocations
TOC recently sent a letter to the California Horse Racing Board recommending that Ferndale run concurrently with GGF in August 2023, as was the case in pre-Covid times. Last year Ferndale ran one week unopposed and is now seeking two weeks unopposed. Economically, two unopposed weeks at Ferndale results in nearly a $1 million dollar loss to California racing; almost $500,000 to the GGF purse account with the new proposal. Data shows roughly 50% of the Ferndale field size is made up of horses from Oregon who return to the state immediately after the meet. We support both tracks running concurrently with GGF as the host during this important time of year. TOC will take a hard look at all race date allocations going forward with the viability of California racing and increased purse generation a high priority.
With the unprecedented medication and safety changes made in 2019 and the subsequent and dramatic drop in equine fatalities, relations with our regulators and legislators in Sacramento have greatly improved. A few months ago a group of stakeholders met with Governor Newsom to discuss a variety of issues facing our industry. Next week, continuing the momentum, a similar group of stakeholders will sit down with legislators to further discussions in areas such as a 2024 sports wagering ballot initiative and supplemental purse funding. Racing is a major contributor to a horse industry that supports 17,000+ jobs with an $13.3 billion economic impact to California. Thanks to all of you, our horsemen and horsewomen, we have a great story to tell and will continue spreading the word along with the new California Horse Power Coalition we helped initiate with our fellow stakeholders.
2023 & 2024 Breeders’ Cups in California
Finally, Breeders’ Cup LTD announced last week that the 2024 Breeders’ Cup has been awarded to Del Mar for the third time in eight years. Coupled with Santa Anita this year, the World Championships will once again call California home for the next two years. California has hosted more Breeders’ Cups than any other state and we are excited to showcase our two iconic racetracks once again to the racing world. It’s a great time to race in California.