Thoroughbred wagering slumps

Betting on Thoroughbred racing in North America dropped more than $1 billion last year, to less than $13.7 billion, the lowest level since 1998, according to figures released Tuesday.

The Jockey Club reported that wagering on U.S. races was down 7.16 percent, from more than $14.7 million in 2007. Betting for December was down 20.3 percent, or more than $200 million, to just over $820 million.

"The fourth quarter was an extremely challenging one due in large part to the worldwide economic slowdown and other internal factors," said Alex Waldrop, NTRA president and CEO, in a statement. He pointed out that December was hurt by an unusual calendar with 35 fewer total days of racing and fewer racing weekends to bet on.

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