Alert!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Extraction of Capital Doesn't Grow the Bet

Via a business blog today:

Thirty years ago, I asked the fabled rock promoter Bill Graham a question that I thought was brilliant, but he pwned me in his response. "Bill, given how fast a Bruce Springsteen concert sells out, why don't you charge $100 a seat and keep all the upside?" (In those days, $100 was considered a ridiculous sum for a concert ticket).

"Well, I could do that, but the thing is, I'm here all year round, and my kids only have a limited budget to spend on concerts. If I charged that much for one concert, they wouldn't be able to come to the other shows I book..."

Bill wasn't just spreading the money out over time. He was investing in a community that could develop a habit of music going, a community that would define itself around what he was building."

There is a limited gambling budget for us, the horseplayer. So, why do some tracks want to take it even quicker? And when they do, don't they realize it will result in less business?

With more competition, and more ways to spend gambling dollars - daily fantasy sports, sports betting etc - making sure existing customers - people like you - have a bankroll to play with is important.

"It's expensive and time-consuming to choose a path that doesn't deliver maximum value today. Unless you do the math on what happens tomorrow."

-- Have you read this month's Horseplayer Monthly free magazine? If not, it's here. 

--- Thanks to all members who completed our horseplayer survey. We should have the results this week.

---To sign up for HANA, or to receive the Horseplayer Monthly in your inbox, you can do it right here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Discerning Horseplayers Are Finding Tracks and Bets to Wager On

We've all seen the headlines: Racing handles are falling faster than the popularity of short fields, there are no 'great places to play', takeout is going up, and bettors are fleeing.

But there are some bright spots. Horseplayers are finding these spots, and they seem to be enjoying them.

This evening, in harness land, there is a Super High 5 carryover at Western Fair that goes in race 7. This track usually does handles in the $200,000 range, but the last time there was a carryover, fans bet close to $55,000 into the super high five pool alone, resulting in a positive expected bet. i.e. the track had to payout more than it took in. Value. For free past performances, they are here.

On Saturday, the new 12% Pimlico Pick 5 had their handle spike 22%, with horseplayers seeking some value. This was with a rather poor betting race in the last leg (The Preakness).



The pick 5 paid almost $400 more than it would've paid at the new, high Woodbine Racetrack pick 5 takeout.


Today, the DRF reported that Suffolk Downs is taking a play from the Monmouth Park playbook, and offering an abbreviated three day meet. However, the big news for horseplayers is: The meet will have, as reported, a 15% across the board takeout.

On Wednesday evening, there is a monster mandatory payout for the Super High 5 (again in harness land) at Pompano Park. The pool could be over a million and again, it will likely be a positive takeout pool.

When you add the fact that tracks like Kentucky Downs has had their handle triple, as one of the now top value, low takeout tracks in North America, there are some good things happening for horseplayers - if we look for them.

We will ensure to keep you posted where there are high takeout bets, low takeout bets, and carryovers (not the jackpot variety of course) where there is positive expected value. Discerning horseplayers all have one thing in common: They are usually the ones with the higher bankrolls at the end of the day, and it pays to play these bets.

 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Questions with "Dink"

This interview with noted long time gambler Alan Dinkenson originally appeared in the April edition of Horseplayer Monthly.  To read the rest of the issue, FOR FREE, please click here. 

Dink was featured in Beth Raymer’s memoir Lay the Favorite, which was later made into a film that premiered in 2012. Dink can be heard each Tuesday at 10 P.M. Pacific where he hosts the Eye on Gaming sports hour at KLAV 1230. He lives in Las Vegas and is an avid supporter of Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue https://www.facebook.com/KLAV1230AM/posts/812677068794916 

HM:  Can you share with us some of your history in gambling? How did you get hooked on horse racing? 

AD:  Back in New York I fell in love with [1961 Derby and Preakness winner] Carry Back at the track with my dad when I was about ten. As a sports kid I found rooting for a horse like rooting for a team.  Later, in my teens, I went with my friends to Roosevelt Raceway, cashed my first bet, and not long after that I was going every night. At Roosevelt I ran into a bookmaker who told me that if I could get my friends to bet with him, he’d give me 25% back. I thought it was the greatest thing ever, so that got my mind working about gambling.

Through him I started to get into the sports betting world, and saw that people never seemed to win, so I decided I wanted to be on the right side of the line and began looking into the world of bookmaking.  I still bet racing because the pools were good and if you were smart back then you could win at the horse races. There was no other option to bet at that time and there was a lot of dumb money.  But by my late 20’s I was a prosperous bookmaker and was only betting the races on my own each day as an aside. 

HM:  As time went on, say in the 1990’s, what was your handle like for horse racing? 

AD:  In the 1990’s, I mostly ran a betting business and bet less money on horse racing. When rebates came in, it helped attract me again, so I was still betting the horses at whatever casino would help out on price. With so much of my time spent on sports and the betting business, it brought me back to the Roosevelt days; I was having fun and enjoying myself with like-minded friends, but I could not do it full time. 

Bruce Willis as “Dink” in Lay the Favorite.  Trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr30OocHzVw

HM:  What were you focusing on, as your horse racing handle went down? 

AD:  Around 2000 I started betting more on hockey. The edges were still there in hockey. Other sports were being dominated by the numbers players, math guys and big teams. I enjoyed the handicapping of horses more than any other game, but the crowd was getting far too sharp for me.  You had to dedicate more and more time and I did not have the time to put towards it. Hockey was, and is, my bread and butter. 

HM:  Do you ever think of going back in time and betting more horse racing? 

AD:  I always try to emulate people who are very successful in a gambling game and I don’t see too many people doing well at horse racing. The few that I do know who are making it are elite players. They’re extremely sharp and dedicate hours upon hours per week to their betting. I don’t think I can compete with them. I find gamblers overrate themselves and tend to think they are better than they are in some pursuits.  Knowing when you aren’t good enough is a good thing to know.  As well, the game has lost a lot of casual players, and pools need those to have a built in edge. Horse racing bettors are so sharp now. I often laugh when I watch TVG and hear, “I would never bet this horse at 8-5,” and see it run off the screen. That horse might’ve been 10-1 in 1980.  The odds board in this day and age is not stupid. 

HM:  On your radio show and in your daily life you chat with gamblers of all disciplines. Have you ever asked them why they do not bet more horse racing? 

AD:  They look at the takeout and get discouraged right away. It seems like a mathematical impossibility. When you add some of the problems in the game – perceived drugs, suspensions etc – it just seems like a mountain too high to climb.  There are other games out there to invest time in so when it comes to making a choice, most tend to choose something else. 

HM:  What do you miss about not playing horse racing like you once did? 

AD:  I love and enjoy handicapping, and using my mind to come up with something that’s six or seven to one with a chance to win big is a huge draw. You don’t get that feeling in sports betting where you are risking a lot to double your money.  I also enjoy live racing, and I enjoy the racing experience.  When I go to a hockey game maybe 1% of the people have a bet on the game, whereas at the track there are 95% who have a bet going.  At the racetrack I'm with the people I enjoy being with.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Seven Questions With...

This piece with Candice Hare originally appeared in the April edition of Horseplayer Monthly.  To read the rest of the issue, FOR FREE, please click here.

Q:  What is your favorite track to play, and why?  

A:  My favorite track to play is Keeneland. Because the meets are short, it seems less overwhelming to really dive in deep and focus solely on that track unlike tracks that race year-round; plus, you typically get large, competitive fields that offer solid wagering opportunities.

Q:  Familiarity with a training colony or riding colony (along with the horses) drives betting at some staple racetracks, and it's hard for other tracks to gain market share. What would a newer, smaller signal track have to do to entice you to patronize their betting pools?  


A:  For me, I think offering one solid "Big Day" per season drives my attention to a smaller track because such days are often more publicized. I'm not typically in tune with even local stakes races at a smaller track, so honestly just making those bigger races known whether it be via social media, print, or radio, it'll capture my interest. The tracks that I don't ever bet are more often than not, the ones I know very little about. 

Q:  Can you name a track that you may have discovered within the last few years who you feel is doing most of the right things to entice you to become a customer?  

A:  I'd say aside from the major tracks that run all year-round, I'd say I've really taken to Kentucky Downs. I personally like to play doubles and pick-5s, so the take-out for that meet is conducive to me making those wagers. Plus, they typically get very large fields, and a solid sized pools, so you end up with a toteboard that offers odds that I feel are typically more true to form (not skewed by small pools or short fields). 

Q:  If you could only play the races (not as a spectator, but as a bettor searching for interesting races and betting value) one day a year (e.g. Breeders Cup Saturday, Derby day etc), which day would you choose?  

A:  I would choose Belmont Stakes day. I think recent changes in that card have made it one of the best betting days of the year.

Q:  The State of the Industry for Customers is ________ Pick one: Poor and needs a ton of work, Ok, but it needs some work, Fine, could be better, with a couple of small tweaks, Great, I am totally satisfied.  


A:  Fine, could be better with a couple of small tweaks.

Q:  What is the number one thing a racetrack could do to entice you to bet more? 


A:  As I said above, it's all about publicity and making sure the public is aware of what solid races or wagering opportunities are available to me especially if a track offers a low takeout wager. I'll usually give the races a look if that's publicized. Santa Anita, for example, really pushed their pick-5 wager on social media for a while due to its takeout and now it's undoubtedly my favorite bet in the country. I don't need a whole lot of convincing to bet, but tracks do need to do a better job at publicizing what they offer to potential customers like me.

Q:  For a little fun question: Who will win the Kentucky Derby?  


A:  Upstart

Sunday, April 26, 2015

New Horse Racing Survey - Please Share Your Opinion

HANA was contacted to distribute the following Thoroughbred racing survey for horseplayer feedback. Would you please consider filling it out to have your voice heard?

Here is the link - http://opco.me/A21903B 

Thanks very much,

Your HANA Team

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rainbow Six Mandatory Expected Pools, Advantage Chart

Michael Antoniades - Chicago Racing Analyst

 In 1941 when the legendary actor Humphrey Bogart described the quest for The Maltese Falcon as “the stuff that dreams are made of “, this was the moment he was talking about. This afternoon at Gulfstream Park will culminate the quest for the Rainbow Six with a mandatory payout that will likely tilt the odds in the players favor, resulting in one of the largest Pick 6 pool in American racing history.

The carryover going into Saturday is $1,453,762. The 20 cent wager will start on Race six with a scheduled post time of 3:30 eastern. Based on past performance, a seven digit payoff is possible. The record payoff on the Rainbow Six was last year, when Dan Borislow took down the entire pool which returned a record $6,678.939 for twenty cents.  In 2012 one single winner in New Jersey took home $3,591,245.

Considering the investment opportunity presented by Sunday’s Rainbow 6 will be one of the greatest ever, I will estimate a Saturday pool of $7,000,000 which includes the carryover. The chart below demonstrates this rare scenario that will pay the winners more than the amount wagered if the final pool is less than $8,700,000. Gulfstream Park has delivered an unforgettable afternoon and possibly the chance of a lifetime. The players thank you.

Note - Other bets today worth looking into from a players advantage is the Prairie Meadows Pick 4 carryover, the Turf Paradise pick 5 carryover; as well as the 12% Pimlico Pick 5. On the "Higher Takeout Alert" scale, the Woodbine Pick 5 is 25% takeout, and Churchill Downs' pick 5 is 22%. Churchill Downs is still under a boycott from horseplayers

Good luck everyone.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Seven Questions with John Doyle

This piece with former National Handicapping Championship winner John Doyle originally appeared in the April edition of Horseplayer Monthly.  To read the rest of the issue, FOR FREE, please click here. 

Q:  What is your favorite track to play, and why?  

A:  Gulfstream Park has decent takeout rates, big fields, attractive prices and the best winter turf racing. Gulfstream is all simulcast for me. Santa Anita is my favorite on site experience. They have put some money in the facility and it shows. They do seem to be more player centric since Tom Lute has taken over.  In the past year I had some great customer experiences there while participating in handicapping contests.  Del Mar is a great venue and location and Keeneland’s racing experience is right up there.
 

Q:  Familiarity with a training colony or riding colony (along with the horses) drives betting at some staple racetracks, and it's hard for other tracks to gain market share. What would a newer, smaller signal track have to do to entice you to patronize their betting pools?  

A:  My big beef with tracks is their lack of transparency, information and customer communication. It's like pulling teeth to get any information. The silence sometimes is deafening. So, a new or existing track addressing some of the items listed below would get my attention.

•    Make stewards and jockey communications public during inquiries
•    Display greater transparency on track conditions (not just it's fast) , horse injuries, medications, shoe information, tote irregularities, trainer/jockey suspensions
•    Report more information with public workouts (times, note, workout partners and trainer comments)
•    Explain tote delays
•    Update us on jockey and horse injuries that have occurred
•    Broadcast in high definition video
•    Provide good paddock watching professional who can supply information and changes in horses   condition race to race (i.e Hong Kong)
•    Base all payouts on 1.00 standard. (current payouts are all over place $2, $1, .50c .10c)
•    Keep number of live pick-4 , pick-5 , pick-6 tickets displayed at all times
•    Keep odds and probable payouts posted while broadcasting replays
•    Improve photo finish technology, it's outdated and erroneous

Q:  Can you name a track that you may have discovered within the last few years who you feel is doing most of the right things to entice you to become a customer?  


A:  Again I like Gulfstream and Santa Anita. You can say what you want about Stronach, but he is committed to the sport and he puts his money up. And Gulfstream must be horseman-friendly because the field sizes are tremendous. However both Santa Anita and Gulfstream are culprits of some of the items I discussed in point two.

Q:  If you could only play the races (not as a spectator, but as a bettor searching for interesting races and betting value) one day a year (e.g. Breeders' Cup Saturday, Derby day etc), which day would you choose? 


A:  I would have to say Breeders' Cup. It's two days. It's generally in a more climate friendly venue. Plus for me the Kentucky Derby is usually the biggest crapshoot from a betting perspective.

Q:  The State of the Industry for Customers is ________ Pick one: Poor and needs a ton of work, Ok, but it needs some work, Fine, could be better, with a couple of small tweaks, Great, I am totally satisfied.  


A:  It varies from circuit to circuit, but my average grade would be OK, but it needs work. A lot of work.

Q:  What is the number one thing a racetrack could do to entice you to bet more?  


A:  Take less and show their appreciation more.

Q:  For a little fun question: Who will win the Kentucky Derby?  


A:  Derby picking is not my forte. California Chrome was my first derby winner since Street Sense. The race is impossible to handicap. However, I think American Pharoah is something special and could even be the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Make Your Voice Heard on Pari-Mutuel Tax Withholding

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association-led fight to change withholding and reporting when it comes to pari-mutuel winnings is moving forward, and the NTRA is seeking horseplayer help with this issue.

According to a press release issued on Tuesday, "The NTRA encourages horseplayers, fans and industry stakeholders who will be positively impacted if the proposed changes are adopted to submit their own comments to Treasury and the IRS using a simple form now available online at www.NTRA.com/IRScomment.

“The two-step process can be completed in Secretariat time – under two minutes,” said NTRA Senior Vice President Keith Chamblin, referring to the 1973 Triple Crown winner’s Kentucky Derby record of 1:59 2/5. 

The form creates a customized message from the sender’s own e-mail address populated with suggested language crafted by the NTRA and submits it directly to the Treasury."

Thank you in advance.

Your HANA Team

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Woodbine High Take Pick 5 Comment, on Behalf of the Smaller Player

We have left this comment on a Canadian website that is focused on Woodbine. We have been trying to spread the word that all tracks should highlight takeout rates for all new bets, good and bad, as a matter of course. Large players (rebated) are affected less when a high takeout bet is brought in (their rebate goes up), but the smaller player, we feel, needs to know exactly what they are paying as a customer.

The emails and comments we have received so far are not from large players (we have received some), as much as the smaller player who feels marginalized. Maybe your voice will not be listened to, but as a customer advocacy group, we will ensure people at least see it.

Woodbine has been made aware of your feelings.

Hi Jen,

We at HANA have not done anything, yet, other than let horseplayers know that the takeout for the pick 5 at Woodbine is well above average, and let Woodbine know they must as a business, let customers know what that new takeout rate is.

The pick 5 is a bet that smaller to mid-sized players have come to support, because tracks North America-wide have provided them with lower takeout and bigger payoffs. The current industry average stands at approximately 15%, and the last few pick 5's created were:

Northlands Park, 10%
Pimlico (Stronach), 12%
NYRA - Belmont, Aqueduct, Saratoga 15%
Santa Anita, Del Mar, etc, 14%

As you can see, customers are conditioned to play them, and they will likely blindly play them at Woodbine *thinking* they are getting a good deal. They are not. Their payoffs will be up to 16% to 17% lower.

Woodbine can do whatever they wish; however, not telling horseplayers in programs and on the track feed they are getting lower payoffs for bets they expect to be good is where we must step in on their behalf.

It's a shame Woodbine did not come in with a lower takeout pick 5 like other tracks. They have been doing some good things in the US market, and this, in our view (and looking at chatboards and our email inbox) has set them back in the States.

Thanks for reading,

HANA

Thursday, April 9, 2015

For Immediate Release: Kentucky Downs Tops the 7th Annual Horseplayers Association of North America Racetrack Rankings

(Charlottesville, VA, April 9, 2015) Kentucky Downs, the Franklin, Kentucky racetrack that races a short, all-turf meet, has topped the 2015 HANA Racetrack Rankings. Kentucky Downs unseated Keeneland, who led the rankings for the first six years.

The HANA Racetrack Ratings are based on an algorithm using factors indicative of horseplayer betting value, gleaned from both empirical and academic study. Key factors including takeout rate, field size, wager variety, pool size, and signal distribution are analyzed track by track and weighted to produce a final composite score. The rankings are supervised by HANA board member Charlie Davis, a professional horseplayer, and Industry Analyst Mike Dorr, a graduate of Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management.

"With low takeout and a field size over ten horses per race, Kentucky Downs has definitely given horseplayers something to get excited about," said HANA President Jeff Platt. “Despite the short meet, the ratings algorithm does not discriminate when it comes to value; Kentucky Downs has it and horseplayers have been responding.”

“It is gratifying to be recognized for our efforts,” said Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen.“Providing the horseplayer value drives virtually every decision we make at Kentucky Downs. As our formula continues to be successful and handle increases - which produces more purse money - then it is a win-win-win for the fans, horsemen and track.”

For a list of all tracks rated one through sixty two, full ratings coverage including statistics, analysis, track executive and horseplayer interviews, please visit, “Horseplayer Monthly”, our free e-magazine at this link. http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/hanamonthly.html

For a web copy of this release, please visit here: http://blog.horseplayersassociation.org/

-30-

 The Horseplayers Association of North America is a 3,000 strong grassroots group of horseplayers who are not affiliated with any industry organization. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. Joining HANA is free.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bettor Alert: Woodbine Comes After Horseplayer Money with a High Takeout Pick 5

One of the best bets for Horseplayers the past few years has been the lower takeout pick 5. Beginning with Monmouth (15%), and later on at California racetracks (14% Players Pick 5) and NYRA (15%), this bet has been a staple.

Just this year, Pimlico, trying to get people interested in their product, created a 12% takeout pick 5, and Northlands Park in Canada, one at 10%.

Woodbine in Rexdale Ontario, did pretty much the inexplicable. They created a 25% takeout pick 5;  well above the average price, and over double, Pimlico's.

We had heard earlier in the week this was occurring, but finally got information today. Yes, we have seen your emails upset about this wager.

Woodbine, and Ontario, lost slot machine revenue in 2012. The government mandate for continued funding for the track was to "grow wagering" and show customers more appreciation and more value. I highly suspect they will be none too pleased with a bet that achieves the opposite.

We wanted you to be aware of this new bet, and how deleterious to value it is. There are clearly other racetracks who care about you and your wagering dollars, so shop accordingly.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Equibase Adds Voided Claim Information

Equibase Company has announced that effective immediately it will include in its data feeds, result charts, and Equibase past performance products information on claims that were subsequently voided. The voided claim information is also being made available to tracks for inclusion in race programs nationwide.

"As specific voided claim rules have become more prevalent at racetracks in North America, it made sense to broaden the dissemination of the information as a service to the betting public," said Hank Zeitlin, president and chief operating officer of Equibase.

Claimed horses, which are denoted with a 'c' at the end of the race information within Equibase past performances, now include a 'v' to indicate when the claim was subsequently voided. The result charts on equibase.com are denoted with "claim voided" text and also include the recorded reason for the voided claim.

Equibase also announced that effective immediately result charts available on equibase.com now include the full race conditions for all races.

Now in its 25th year of operation, Equibase Company is a partnership between subsidiaries of The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America and serves as the Thoroughbred industry's official database. Through its website, mobile platform and mobile applications, Equibase offers a comprehensive array of free statistical information as well as premium handicapping products and reports in support of the North American Thoroughbred racing industry.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Comment from an Industry Analyst

We received a comment on yesterday's blog piece from Michael - a long time Thoroughbred and harness horseplayer and an industry employee - who has been changing the way the sport (in this case, harness racing) is being wagered. Michael has been the impetus behind some lower takeout wagers, which have seen some tremendous growth.

The industry has come a long way regarding takeout and the best operators have responded by listening to horseplayers. Five years ago if you wanted to play into a big pool with a low takeout there was the Meadowlands Pick Four offered at 15 per cent. That was it. Take a look at the low takeout wagering landscape today.

     Last Saturday night, The USTA Strategic Wagering platform offered these three Pick Four pools, all on one mile ovals with a reduced takeout. The Meadowlands pool was $80,451 , Balmoral Park followed with a pool of $34,659 and Cal Expo closed out the night with a pool of $41,792.  Earlier in the week two half mile tracks sported very solid Pick Four pools as well. On Wednesday March 18, the Northfield Park pool swelled to $19,535 five days after the Maywood Park Pick Four pool totaled a season high $19,161. Combine that with the success Greg is having with his low takeout wagers at Western Fair and you see that horseplayers are supporting these wagers passionately.

     Low takeout jackpot wagers have made headlines too. Last Saturday one player won over $65,000 for a dime at Cal Expo and two weeks ago one lucky player won $200,000 at The Meadowlands on a twenty cent bet. Pompano had a twenty cent jackpot bet pay $146,288 in February. This all pales in comparison to what could happen at Woodbine onSaturday, April 4.

     In the event that a single winner does not hit the Jackpot High Five in the next three racing days, Woodbine will offer a mandatory payout the night before Easter Sunday. With a 15 per cent takeout and a twenty cent minimum, I estimate a pool of $3,000,000. More importantly, it is a certainty that the bet will pay out significantly more than the money that is wagered on that night because of the combination of  low takeout and a carryover, creating the rarest of wagering opportunities.

     Using the $3,000,000 estimated pool as an example, an $800,000 carryover combined with $2,200,000 in new money would create a net pool of $2,670,000. This example would show a surplus of $470,000, making the player advantage over 21%. The low takeout is the sole reason this opportunity exists for the players and WEG should be applauded for their efforts and their vision in this endeavor.

     In conclusion, always remember that the horseplayer support of these low takeout bets the last five years made it possible for what you see today. And for your unwavering support of this industry, we thank you.

     Sincerely.
Michael Antoniades

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How a Small Ontario Harness Track Outhandles Gulfstream

On Tuesday, at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ontario, the Super High Five pool - the regular pool, no carryover - handled close to $18,000.

In South Florida, at Gulfstream Park - the same day - the Super High Five pool handled just over $10,000.

No, we won't compare other pools, and we realize that Gulfstream is one of the most popular racetracks to wager in North America. But, this is fairly stunning. Not long ago Western Fair could barely handle $150,000 per day. One day this year they handled over $700,000, and their Super High Five pool has reached a pool size where things are snowballing.

Greg Blanchard, Western's GM, with a comment yesterday:

"Speaking as a smaller track operator at Western Fair, the Super Hi-5 has become a 'go to' wager for us, especially when there's a carryover. We've seen pools with upwards of $40,000 of new money wagered after carryovers, there's no way we'd generate that type of single pool size typically. This is a substantial single pool for a track of our stature. These type of wagers have helped us a lot and offer something that horseplayers are looking for."

This did not happen overnight.

First they created the bet with a 15% rake, to highlight it to the masses. Then, each day, they continued it and promoted it the best they could. When they do get a carryover (note carryovers are lower takeout), the masses started to pay attention more and more.

Second, it's a harder to hit bet, on a half mile track which is formful. It allowed for better payoffs.

Third, its 20 cent minimum was liked by average or mid-sized players.

We often hear small tracks have no hope to grow handle. In some cases that may be true, but Western Fair proves that when you offer a bet with some value, over time, players will come knocking. Congratulations to Greg and his team.

Note: Yesterday evening we learned that the takeout rates on the Dubai World Cup card are 27% for exotics and (we just learned) 20% WPS.  It has been that way the entire meet. As far as North America goes, Mike Dorr and Charlie Davis have been feverishly compiling data from racetracks, and the 2015 Track Ratings will be released in the Horseplayer Monthly magazine (monthly issues are free here), within a couple of weeks.

- Thanks to Michael A from Balmoral for pointing out the Gulfstream/Western Fair handle numbers to us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Maryland Betting Menu Changes Are Coming

Tim Ritvo, from an article today in Thoroughbred Commentary:
  •  “[Lowing the takeout] requires racing commission approval,” Ritvo commented. “The horsemen are involved, too, so everyone has to go as an unified force. Basically, we all will take a small revenue hit, but we’re hoping we increase handle and churn so we can grow our business. We’re pretty sure the horseplayer will be satisfied with this move in the right direction.”
  •  Creating a cohesive racing circuit will not take place overnight but in the meantime horseplayers will have something to look forward to when the Pimlico meet opens April 2. It was recently announced that Pimlico will offer a pick five with an industry low 12-percent takeout*.
  •  “We’re hopeful that horsemen’s groups around the country understand that the days of five or six-horse fields aren’t attractive to the public and that bigger fields creates a larger handle and a bigger pool of money,

If this succeeds (and we have not seen the proposed betting menu for Laurel yet, which we all agree needs serious work), this is clearly a step in the right direction for the betting public. Since the betting public pays, for the most part, purses, it's hopeful for the industry and horsemen, as well.

 * - Northlands Park has a 10% pick 5 takeout. It opens again in May.