The Lexington Herald-Leader looked earlier this week at the first year of operation for the Lexington historical horse racing parlor at The Red Mile owned by the standardbred track and the Keeneland Association.
At the top level, the most recent monthly numbers are good — even if in Lexington’s case, as the story says, not as quick to grow as maybe expected. At a deeper level, the numbers from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission show the challenge going forward for the slot-like devices.
August, with the addition of Lexington last September, set a record for the state with $69.9 million bet on the 1,706 terminals at three racetracks. July’s $69.07 million was the previous best.
The $40.76 million at Kentucky Downs in Franklin set a record there, beating the $40.59 million the previous month and finishing nearly 26 percent better than the previous August.
Ellis Park’s $8.2 million was the best for the Henderson track and almost 45 percent better than August 2015.
The nearly $21 million for Lexington was its third best month.
What will be interesting to watch, at the deeper level, is how demand keeps pace with supply. Kentucky has more than twice as many machines as it did a year ago. For the 1,706 machines, the handle per day per machine of $1,322 was down 26.8 percent in August, from the prior year.
At Ellis, the number of machines — 179 — is the same and the average daily handle per machine is up 44.9 percent at $1,477.
Kentucky Downs added 125 machines from August to August, a 25 percent increase. The handle per machine per day is $2,104, up seven-tenths of a percent.
The 902 machines at The Red Mile average $750 in betting per day per machine, the lowest such average of the state’s three parlors. The Lexington parlor represents the bulk of the increase in machines for Kentucky and the drag on the statewide per-day per-machine average. How the parlor does in its second year will go a long way toward determining what the report card for historical horse racing in Kentucky looks like a year from now. Beginning in October (the anniversary of the first full month for the Lexington parlor), The Red Mile numbers no longer are newfound money.