Woodbine Entertainment today announced that the 2023 Thoroughbred season produced an all-source handle of C$613,125,180. It is the second largest single-season handle in the Woodbinehistory, but down C$8 million from 2022.
“Our 2023 Thoroughbred meeting delivered very strong results thanks to our exciting racing product, the strength of the Woodbine brand and the hard work of our team and the entire horse racing community,” said Michael Copeland, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment. “The results are particularly encouraging given the industry trends our sport is facing with increased competition from sports betting, growing portfolios in some jurisdictions largely due to ancillary gaming revenue, extreme weather events that have canceled an unprecedented number of competitive maps, horse supply in North America and larger macroeconomic factors such as inflation and US dollar uncertainty.
“While we are proud of our results, we cannot be complacent and must focus on industry trends and other opportunities that will help us weather these headwinds.”
A total of 1,180 races were contested on 128 race dates in 2023 compared to 1,198 races on 132 dates in 2022. Udbain ran four fewer dates and 18 fewer races in 2023 due to an unprecedented number of canceled race cards. race (Fri) due to extreme heat and poor air quality caused by smoke from wildfires in Canada.
The average field size for those races was 8.2, the same as 2022 and above the industry average.
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In Ontario, betting on Woodbine Thoroughbred races by customers across the province is down 6.2% (C$81.8 million this season vs. C$87.2 million in 2022).
The decline in domestic betting was partially offset by an overseas handle of C$512 million, down from C$515 million in 2022, though still a notable gain from the previous record of C$420 million in 2021. The C$512 million overseas market handle was supported by the strong US dollar.
The average processing per race in 2023 was a record 519,597 Canadian dollars. This is an increase of C$580 per race from 2022.
To address increased competition from the emerging licensed sports betting market, Woodbine Entertainment announced a partnership with global sports betting leader bet365 ahead of The King’s Plate. It includes the integration of pari-mutuel horse racing into bet365’s licensed sports betting platform in Ontario. Woodbine plans to integrate its racing product into additional licensed sportsbooks in Ontario in 2024 in hopes of generating a greater presence in the province and engaging with new audiences.
“We are operating on a very solid foundation that puts us in a good position to manage current industry and economic trends,” added Copeland. “There are also opportunities ahead that are not yet fully realized, such as the integration of racing into licensed sports betting, which will have a positive impact.”
- The second-highest single-season handle from all sources (CA$613M) in Woodbine history
- Second-highest single-season foreign handle (C$512 million) in Woodbine history
- A record breaking average per race of C$519,597
- Average field size of 8.2 (above North American industry average)
- Woodbine saw the return of the King’s Plate Stakes for the first time in over 70 years with a winner First High Prince . Total betting from all sources on the day of the King’s Plate was a record C$18,127,049
- The integration of pari-mutuel racing into bet365’s Ontario licensed online sportsbook
The 2024 Woodbine Thoroughbred season is scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 27. The 165th running of The King’s Plate will take place on Saturday 17th August.
This press release has been edited for content and style by the BloodHorse staff.