Playing the ponies good for the economy

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Looking for
 signs of economic recovery? Here’s a good one: Sale of two-year-olds at Keeneland on Monday were better than last year.

Gross sales, median price and number of horses sold were all higher compared to the 2009 sale, the Associated Press reported.

If the horsey set is spreading the green, the economy must be headed in the right direction.

It will be even more interesting to see how much money is wagered on the Kentucky Derby come May 1.

As Derby wagering goes, so goes the economy, according to my totally unscientific analysis.

If the handle at Churchill Downs is up on Derby Day, consider that a good sign for the economy. If the handle is down, not so good.

Before you completely dismiss the Derby Correlation consider this: In 2009 — not a great year for the economy — almost $156 million was wagered on 13 races at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. That was a staggering amount, to be sure, but down more than 5 percent from 2008. Wagering on the 2009 Derby itself suffered an even steeper drop, falling almost 9 percent to about $104.6 million.

The decline in Derby wagering came despite a crowd of more than 153,000 at the historic horse track, only the ninth time Churchill Downs has attracted more than 150,000 on Derby Day.

Last year’s crowd was big, but tight-fisted.

Here’s hoping the the crowd at this year’s Run for the Roses is more free-spending.

If you are considering a trip to the 2010 race, remember,
 playing the ponies is good for the economy.