Did new points system increase handle?Sunland Park generated handle of $3,818,878 for its Sunland Derby day card on Sunday, March 24. The Eastern New Mexico track called it an all-sources record--a fitting coda on the first leg of the inaugural Kentucky Derby Championship Series presented by TwinSpires.com that saw all-sources handle on the eight race dates involving the so-called "50-point" races jump 5.79% versus last year.
And in a sign that a rising tide lifts all boats, all-sources handle on the eight days in particular increased 3.64% for all North American Thoroughbred tracks those days. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that handle for the entire leg 1 period of the Derby Championship Series was flat. I.e., handle from February 23-March 24 decreased except for the bump on DCS cards. As for the year, handle January 1-March 24 is down .7%.
Determining how much the new points system has to do with increased wagering interest will require more than eight races of overall wagering data within one Derby prep season, but this is definitely a good first sign that the system is achieving its mission of getting people more excited about these races, and ultimately, the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.
Leg two of the Derby Championship Series begins this weekend with the U.A.E., Florida, and Louisiana Derbys, continues with the Wood Memorial Stakes and Santa Anita Derby on April 6, and concludes with the Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby on April 13. In particular, the two domestic races each weekend will provide an additional measuring stick regarding interest in the series, but the early returns are certainly positive.