Wednesday, January 21, 2009

1st Annual HANA Track Ratings Preview


65 tracks were rated

Ranks 20 through 11 will be released day by day starting tomorrow

10 through 1 will be released with full text, including comments from the tracks themselves

1 through 65 with all accompanying data will be released on HANAweb. It will encapsulate all factors and data points so players can use this as a player resource

It is important to note that these tracks are rated by the algorithm below - this is not subjective. If a track has eight grade 1 races with full fields, but has 31% takeouts it will not make our top ten (quality of field is not considered); conversely a low takeout track with 5 horse fields and no wager variety will not make it either. I guess a good way of putting it is this: Which tracks give you the most bang for your buck, where you can bet a low cost superfecta, with a big field, at a low takeout. Then you just have to sit back and enjoy the race, knowing the track you are patronizing is giving you some value

Comments are welcome; and please enjoy our first annual HANA Track Ratings


The Horseplayers Association of North America is proud to introduce the official HANA Track Rating System in a continuing effort to provide valuable assistance to our members in their handicapping endeavors. Knowledge is power and the purpose of this rating system is to allow members to make more informed decisions regarding the value of their wagering dollar at different tracks. This initial release of the track rating system is set up to be comprised of quantitative factors: takeout, field size and low base cost wager availability.

It is important to note that tracks may be unable to exert complete control over some of the factors incorporated in rating, consequently it is possible for a track to receive a poor rating even though it has many well intentioned, player friendly individuals on its staff. The primary purpose of the ratings is to provide information which will help horseplayers make decisions which will improve their bottom line and should be viewed accordingly.

Rebate availability has not been used in our calculations due to rebating ADW's not being available to our members in all states, and we are not at liberty to disclose the specifics of rebate levels available from those ADW's that offer them. It should be noted however, that tracks that are rebate friendly (make their signal available to rebating ADW's) experience a marked improvement in their ratings with for example, a nominal rebate of 5% being offered. The benefit derived from specific rebate levels is left for the horseplayer to determine.


The rating in each category is calculated by breaking the range of the data into 5 equal segments and assigning a 4 through to 0 (A through F) grade to each. The low cost wager variety category earns a point for each wager available. The final takeout grade is the average of the takeout of all wagers for a given track. The composite rating is derived using a 5x3x1 weighting scheme with composite takeout being assigned a weighting of 5, field size a 3 and low cost wager variety a 1.


Each wager category will be rated from “A” through “F” with each letter grade representing an approximate 20 percent range of the total population of all north American tracks. An “A” rating, for instance will represent a standing in the upper quintile of all NA tracks while an “F” rating will represent the lowest. All available wager categories available for each track will be rated. Note that ratings are based on what is available today, not necessarily what is considered optimum.

WPS takeout ranges from 15% to 20%. The following grades will be assigned:

15% - A

16% - B

17% - C

18% - D

19% - F

20% - F

Exacta takeout ranges from 18% to 26%. The following grades will be assigned:

18% - A

19%, %20 – B

21%, 22% - C

23%, 24% - D

25%, 26% - F

Quinella ranges will be as above.

Trifecta takeout ranges from 19% through 31%. The following grades will be assigned:

19% - 20% - A

21% - 23% - B

24% - 26% - C

27% - 29% - D

30% - 31% - F

Superfecta ranges will be as above.

Daily Double takeouts range from 12% through 26%. The following grades will be assigned:

12% - 15% - A

16% - 18% - B

19% - 21% - C

22% - 24% - D

25%, 26% - F

Pick 3/4 takeouts range from 12% through 29%. The following grades will be assigned:

12% - 15% - A

16% - 19% - B

20% - 22% - C

23% - 25% - D

26% - 29% - F

Pick 6 takeouts range from 15% through 28%. The following grades will be assigned:

15% - 17% - A

18% - 20% - B

21% - 23% - C

24% - 26% - D

27% - 28% - F

Takeout Composite

The takeout composite grade will be computed by averaging and rounding the equivalent numeric value of the letter grade in each category.

Grades will be assigned as follows:

3.85 - 4 = A

3.51 - 3.84 = A-

3.16 - 3.50 = B+

2.85 - 3.15 = B

2.51 - 2.84 = B-

2.16 - 2.50 = C+

1.85 - 2.15 = C

1.51 - 1.84 = C-

1.16 - 1.50 = D+

0.85 - 1.15 = D

0.51 - 0.84 = D-

< 0.51 = F

Wager Variety

A player friendly track will offer the largest variety of wagers to the customer. This includes 50 cent trifectas and pick-3 and pick-4's as well as 10 cent supers etc. Availability of these player friendly wagers will be considered in the rating of each track. The baseline for each track will be $2 WPS, $1 exacta, $1 trifecta, $1 superfecta, $1 pick bets and early/late daily doubles. This will earn the track an “F”. Any wager availability beyond this will earn an increasingly higher rating. A point will be awarded for each of: $0.50 trifecta, $0.10 superfecta, $0.50 pick-3, and a $0.50 pick-4.

Field Size

Field size is another “customer friendly” element that should figure into a track rating. Does the racing office truly fill the fields for competitive racing or do they just write races for the horsemen to win purses? Field size (based on the last calendar year of racing - 2008 calendar year for the initial release ) will be sorted into quintiles and rated accordingly as follows:

9.5 and up - A

8.8 – 9.4 – B

8.1 – 8.7 – C

7.4 – 8.0 – D

Below 7.4 - F

Composite Rating

The composite rating will be comprised of a weighted sum of each of the individual ratings. Initial grading will be comprised of the takeout being weighted 5x, the field size 3x and the wager variety 1x. The range of numeric value possible under this rating system is 0 through 4.

Grades will be assigned as follows:

3.85 - 4 = A

3.51 - 3.84 = A-

3.16 - 3.50 = B+

2.85 - 3.15 = B

2.51 - 2.84 = B-

2.16 - 2.50 = C+

1.85 - 2.15 = C

1.51 - 1.84 = C-

1.16 - 1.50 = D+

0.85 - 1.15 = D

0.51 - 0.84 = D-

< 0.51 = F


Anonymous said...

Good stuff! I'm really looking forward to the results.

Anonymous said...

No consideration of pool sizes? Betting into skimpy pools regardless of takeout makes a very dicey proposition. There's a reason why players aren't betting at some tracks and it has nothing to do with the takeout level.

HANA said...

Hi A,

You do make a very good point and just to let you know, both availability of rebates and pool size was considered. However, we kept this in tune with a player who might not be a whale (they already get perks and will not play a $2000 win pool track), but might want a day out at the track, bet a $5 or $10 or $10WPS bet each race and box up three horses in an ex or tri and have a go at it. Things like pool size is not a priority for average players.If these folks are betting into a $10,000 win pool, or 50k win pool it is not a number one thing.

I guess another example is that 50 cent pick 4's/10 cent supers were considered good in our scoring system, where big players do not like the fractional bets as a rule; and if we were rating tracks for them only it would have been pretty much the opposite.

It was a tough call either way and we had to draw a line in the sand with a few things. There are some huge players and some small players in the game, and as HANA members. As I am sure you know, they are completely different species. So we did the best we could on pure racing - takeout, field size, and wager availability.

Thanks for the comment, and again I do agree, for players of a slightly higher than average bet size it would be good for the survey.

Anonymous said...

Tracks that are receiving purse subsidies from alternate gaming or allocations from a state's general funds should be penalized for also having higher than average takeouts. Tracks that do not recieve subsidies that require handle as their life blood should be upgraded when they also have lower than average takeout.

HANA said...

Another good point. We had two problems with that. One is that many tracks do sink cash into the venue and player rewards but it was hard to quantify. Second, most of the slots deals were mandated by government, so the split of slot cash was regulated.

As you know if you are a member, we at HANA hope to someday see alternative gaming sunk back into lower take to help build handles and churn. So we agree that slots tracks should be looking at this feature.

Thank you for the comment.

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest this very thing a while back. But breadth of online availability was a factor in mine. Also, when total membership warrants, I think a membership vote should be a major factor. That's a complex algorithm in itself, and you could say it's "the bottom line" of track quality assessment.

Anonymous said...

I think you should give tracks some sort of credit for having turf racing. Handicapping races over the sod has always been very appealing to me.

Buddy said...

No way Churchill Downs can be ranked 5th. They have big fields and low take out. That's it.
They treat their Customers like dirt. I started going to C.D. IN 1964. I went every day with about 20 different friends all the time. Now I can't give anyone I know money to walk in CD.
I've been to 74 different tracks in my life time and at this point in time with the management that CD has I will rank them about 62nd.

CD is as dirty a race track as I've seen in my life. Management knows it, I showed them the bird shit all over their $5,000 box seats they sell for the derby all over the clubhouse. I showed Mr. Gates and Mr. Sexton the food ,racing forms,programs and trash left over from the derby. Bird and rat shit all over third floor clubhouse. It was in the fall meet in November when they were informed along with Greg Bush. It's still there today.

They play music so loud all day long there is no way to sit outside and study the form or enjoy a race or here someone trying to tell you something. You will be miserable all day and you will have a splitting headache and be pissed off as you drive out of the pot hole filled parking lot.

They get different customers coming from all over the world but most of them never come back.

I live six miles from CD and I drive 70 miles down the road to the greatest race track in the world. Keeneland and WE enjoy every day there.

CD is a DUMP plain and simple. The said they spent $175,000,000 on the new clubhouse. There are parts of clubhouse that you can see through the floor and at times when it's raining they will set buckets out to catch the water leaking through ceiling.

THEY SPENT $175,000,000 on the customer to steal his money with slop machines and they won't tell you how much attendance has gone down after they spent the 175,000,000.

Again it's A #1 CERTIFIED dump for a horse track. I'm tired now and mad and pissed off because Keeneland is closed so I'll just stay home and watch TVG and bet my bookie. I can go on for day's about how awful Churchill Downs is and I mean day's. They have the twin spires people that are really good and that's it. Mr. D should send the rest packing. Good night all.


Anonymous said...

If New York state did not raise Saratoga's takeouts they would have been in the top twenty. Complain to your state rep.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to rate tracks only on wagering value or are you considering the plant itself for visiting enjoyment?(Buddy's comment about CD).I live and wager mostly in NY and the thing I find the most inexcusable here is the Exacta boards at the tracks. All exacta probable payouts should be displayed in a grid layout a la or for easy lookup. It is SO frustrating to be at the track and have to wait for the exacta probables to scroll to the horses you are interested in to see if you are getting a fair exacta price. This is unbelievable to me in this day and age. It is really horrible with big fields(Having to stand there for 3-4 minutes waiting...).Does this bother anyone else? To make matters worse, when there are scratches in the race the scratched horse's "turn" in the probables display is not skipped.GRRRR.