Saturday, February 28, 2009


Not all horseplayers understand the concept of breakage. But a HANA member breaks it down for us in a piece for his blog.

"Breakage robs horseplayers of $150 Million per year. Release that money to the proper owners, the horseplayers, and you would see an immediate $600 Million annual increase in handle by virtue of that money being churned back through the mutuel pools. "
Rich Bauer

What Is Breakage?

By Cangamble

Breakage is what the track makes due to the rounding down of what a horse should actually pay versus what the track ends up paying to the winners.

Most jurisdictions allow tracks to "break" to the dime (Canada and New York state break to the nickel). In other words, after the track applies their track takeout to the total money bet, they round down what they pay to the bettor to the nearest 20 cent interval per $2 wager. In Canada and New York state, the payoff is rounded down to the nearest 10 cent interval per $2 wager.

Here is an example how it works:

There is a four horse race. $100,999 in the pool. Number 1 has exactly 21,000 bet on him, number 2 has 18,500, number 3 has 23,500 bet on him, while number 4 has 37,999 bet on him. Takeout is 16%, and number 1 wins.

$100,999 times .84 (1.00 minus 16% takeout)=$84,839.16 to be divided to the winning tickets. There are 10,500 winning $2 ticket. This means that each horse should pay $8.07992, but of course, it only pays $8.00 The track just made 839.16 in free money (breakage). In fact, they charged takeout on their own money (the $999 that wasn't going back to the customer if number 1 won the race).

Now lets look at the cumulative effect it had on the players with the winning tickets:

Simply take the 84000 and divide by 100,999 which equals .83169, subtract that total from 1 and the takeout in this case was 16.83% instead of the published 16%.

The higher the cashed ticket, the less significant is the effect on the real track takeout the player is up against. Show bettors will see a much higher real takeout than win player, and much much higher than exotics players.

Here is an extreme case:

Lets say you were betting some hick harness track that has very little money in its pools. You like a longshot, and you decided to take a shot and bet $200 to win. Your bet $200, but no one else bet the horse to show. The total pool is $299. Your horse wins, but it turns out you were the only person who bet the horse.
Track takeout is 20%, so your payoff should be $2.392 (299 times .8), but because the track breaks to the dime, your horse only pays $2.20 to win.
The track makes an extra $19.20 in breakage. And it cut your potential profit by 49%. Interestingly, the effect on track takeout isn't as high as you might think. Instead of 20% it works out to be 26.42% in this case (220 divided by 299). Goes to show how high takeouts cost us lots and lots of money in the long run.

Overall cost to bettors:

When breaking to the dime, breakage has an equal chance of being zero, one cent, two cents...10 cents...14 cents.....18 cents, 19 cents. So adding all the numbers up from zero to 19 and dividing by 20 yields a 9.5 cent average. This means that over enough time, you donated 9 and a half cents for every $2 ticket cashed. If you bet $20 tickets, on average you get back 95 cents less per bet cashed thanks to breakage.

In Canada and New York state, breakage only costs the player 4.5 cents per every $2 bet cashed on average.

I spoke to a former racing exec who told me that he factored in .5% of the total expected handle to come from breakage, when making his yearly budget. This means that Canadian tracks and New York tracks expect to make .25% from the total handle, thanks to breakage. Again, the effect on the player will vary widely depending on whether you play exotics or mainly you are a WPS bettor. The more bets you cash, the more it will cost you. If your average win mutuel at a certain track is around 9 bucks, and the published track takeout is 16% for that track, thanks to breakage, the real takeout is closer to 17%.

One has to ask, that in the computer age we live in, why don't bettors get back what we are supposed to get back from the tracks and ADWs? Anyone who has cashed a 20 cent superfecta at HPI knows that their accounts often have odd pennies in it thanks to a super that, for example, paid $1,546.35 for a buck (for 20 cents you wind up with $309.27 put into your account). So the technology is there to give us what we are entitled, we just don't get what is entitled to us.

For more on Breakage, please try Rich B's site for a good article.

To join us at HANA, please click here. We need your help.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Questions II

In our post below called "Questions" we sparked some good chatter, and posters made some excellent points. One of which spoke about traditional racing working on a model of "if the customer loses more, racing makes more." Mathematically this is correct. However, when racing was a monopoly it is true. Get as many people to bet with you, get them to lose and they have no outlet to go somewhere else.

My Question II goes to the changing world and racing losing that mindset. We posted about betfair and their answer to the "get as many people to lose" question in terms of their business. They said the following:

But shouldn’t we want customers to lose money as quickly as possible?

Slot machine operators around the world routinely return a higher percentage to punters than they are required to under regulation. Altruism, or commercial nous?

Racing knows that customers who go racing, and a) feel they had no value for money at the racecourse, and b) don’t win a single bet all day, don’t have much fun. They may not come back. In just the same way, we know that the least valuable customers to Betfair are the ones who lose all their money quickly. They go away and never come back. So, we are happy to take less off our customers per bet.

Business is all about offering your customer the product he wants at the price he wants. If you can do that, he’ll spend his money with you. For us, that means offering a whole new range of products (inrunning betting, for example, or the ability to trade a position), to attract a whole new audience.

They are not a charity, they are a business. It is irrelevant what their 'gross' costs are. This is what they believe, through testing and knowing gamblers, is their optimal profit making price-point - just like any other business does; like McDonald's knowing that they make more money at a $3 Big Mac instead of an $8 one (and guess what, McDonald's have higher gross costs than racing does too!). So, I wonder. If a new business like this has found their optimal price point in only 8 years of existence, why have we not changed price points in racing with 108 years of experience? Does racing actually believe that what they charged in takeout in the pre-internet age is optimal, or is the business too fractured to even try to find a proper price point?

Exotic Betting Giveaway

Our pal and HANA member at North American Racing Partnerships is giving away a free copy of Steve Crist's Exotic Betting, I see. If you do not own the book and want a shot at it gratis, there is no purchase necessary.

I read the book and enjoyed it. Unfortunately my handicapping seems to always pick the wrong A and B horses, so I think I better read more books.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rebate Ban in California Abolished

For years giving customers lower prices via rebates was a bad word. Now rebates are finally embraced for what they are - lower prices for bettors to increase handles and jump interest in playing racing.

In California today, the racing board voted down the rebate ban.

Earlier at the meeting, the racing board abolished a rule that banned racetracks from providing customers with rebates of bets.

A good first step. Now we need to make sure companies offering them offer them to anyone who seeks them out, from sea to shining sea. In a business who constantly raises their prices, thinking it will help them, this is big news indeed.

Kassa - The Handicappers Pyramid

Whether you are a novice or pro, the game is a stimulating, challenging pursuit. Arguably the most crucial ingredient to maximizing your returns is a strong foundation with the mental aspects of the game. These can be the difference between a big score, and the big score you should have had. I wanted a visual reminder of these mental aspects, so I built the “Horseplayer's Pyramid”. No, it's not the food pyramid, or a giant monument equipped for a horseplayer's afterlife. The Horseplayer's Pyramid is simply a chart with 10 of the most important psychological qualities. Each quality is dependent upon the others for support, and just one weak block can cause a total "collapse". Near the top is the "Profit Line" - the level at which you can turn a consistent profit. Notice that the "profit line" comes before the talent block, that is no special talent is required, if all the fundamentals are executed with excellence. Run a checklist of these qualities, maybe one can improve your game. Terms are defined below.

Terms Defined

Chief Aim - Your direct and specific Goal
Accurate Thought - Scientific thought process , Reality as it actually is.
Initiative - Taking Action
Information - A competitive knowledge of the horses.
Desire - Intense drive to succeed.
Self Control - Discipline throughout your horseplaying and life.
Viable Approach - Methods that can reach your goals if correctly applied.
Patience - The ability to wait for profitable plays.
Concentration - Focus, Seeing the opportunities
Talent - icing on the cake

Jay Kassa is a horseplayer and HANA member who takes his game very seriously. He will be posting some thoughts from time to time. HANA is lucky to have him.

Is something on your mind? Do you like writing? If so, we want to hear from you. Please email and let us know. We need member feedback and encourage it. Don't be shy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ray Goes to the Bay

Ray Paulick visited Tampa Bay Downs and wrote about it.

Tampa is a highly rated track by HANA. Rich Bauer, horseplayer, added his thoughts to our Tampa Bay piece and concurs with Ray. Tampa appears to be worth a look if you are interested in trying a new track.

1st Ever HANA Day at the Races

When: Saturday April 18th 2009

Where: Keeneland Race Course (might as well make the number one rated HANA track our first destination!)

Time: Post time!

Dear HANA Members,

We would like to invite all or any of you who may be in the Lexington area on April 18th to join us for a meet and greet at Keeneland Race Course. Over the last several weeks the board at HANA and several members have decided that the time has come to get together. Since most of us have only met online, or not at all, it certainly would be good idea. And Keeneland in the spring? That’s tough to beat for horseplayers.

As most of you know, we just started here not too long ago. We have not raised very much money (thanks to everyone who has contributed!), so do not expect anything elaborate in terms of giveaways and such; however, we should have some fun planned for the day.

We will update members when we get more information over the coming weeks.

We sincerely hope that several of you can make it. Although we read all comments and emails, chatting with members, and understanding what makes them tick, face to face, is as good as it gets.

Thanks, and please reply via email or below if you think you might be able to make it.

The HANA Board

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Limited Edition Member Pins Available Next Week!

In about ten days the Charter Member HANA pins for 2009 will be in our hot little hands. These are a limited edition offering. The price is $20. Right now we do not have a fancy way for you to buy them like we are But we do have two ways.

1. Our paypal link. All you have to do is pay from your paypal account (minimum donation $20) and let us know in the subject line that you would like a pin. If you send us an email ( with your mailing address we will make sure you get them pronto!

2. By Check. Similarly under the above link our mailing address is listed. Send us minimum $20 and a return address and we send you a pin.

The $20 will go back into HANA, and back into helping us grow and change the game for the better. We do not charge member fees, nor do we have a large financial backer. The board members place their own capital into the organization to get it off the ground (as well as several donations, and purchases from the HANA Store that we thank you for!), but it is tough to do anything worthwhile for members on a shoestring, so we really appreciate your support should you choose to order a pin. We are growing each day and we would like to see that continue.

These member pins are pretty unique and a great way to say you are a horseplayer who loves the game and wants to see it grow. Order one today!

Thanks from the HANA Team

Pin Stats:

Type: Die Struck

Plating: Antique Silver

Epoxy: No

Size: 1” x 0.6"

Monday, February 23, 2009


I was watching TV last night and a program on the history of slot machines came on. I found it interesting that the gambling and casino experts on there were speaking about how the machines have upped payout. In fact, there are several machines that pay out over 100% (negative takeout). This was done to encourage players to play and win, have a good time and come back.

If slot machines do it, for some of the least price sensitive players on the planet because it makes them more money, what in the heck is racing waiting for?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rules and Regs

Interesting what ADW owners go through in trying to sell racing to a customer.

Click here for requirements, regulations and whatever else you can think of to actually land a customer.

If someone needs a Phd to figure this out, I would not be surprised. Why do we make it so damn difficult for bettors to give us money? Is it any wonder why other gambling games are kicking our butts online?

h/t to Pull the Pocket

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Would You?

Hitting a pick 6 is a big deal. I think giving the proceeds away is a big deal too. I wonder how many people will be cheering for him this weekend?

h/t to Standardbred Canada.

Horseplayers World Series Starts Tomorrow

Good luck to all the players at the Horseplayer World Series held at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. We have several HANA members in the field including HANAblog contributors James Erickson and Fraser Rawlinson. We will try to get a report or two from the hotel tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Top Rated HANA Tracks : Studying Retama's 12% Pick 3

We have been inundated with comments and questions regarding our top ten tracks of late. Many of the comments focused on the qualitativeness of each track (food, ambiance etc), and we had to many times mention we did not look at such things. We looked at metrics that have long been associated with player satisfaction and handle growth - lower takeout, field size and wager variety. We believe that these metrics are very important not only to the player, but to the business of racing.

We are going to begin featuring some of the top tracks, and illustrate how players can take advantage of them if they so wish. We hope this shows just how important many of the metrics are to racings customers; and to the business itself

Let us have a look at Retama Park, the seventh rated track by HANA in terms of wager value. In this study we will look at Retama’s (and in fact North America’s) best bet - the 12% takeout pick 3 and see what it can do for a player’s bottom line. The 12% pick 3 is a bet that gives a regular player the chance to compete with larger player in terms of prices. For a track with a 28% takeout pick 3 a large player may be rebated 10-16% bringing down the cost of the wager, but a regular, smaller player will not get that same price. A 12% pick 3 is rebated at nothing for a rebated player. It is the quintessential level playing field.

Here is a chart of 12% pick 3 payoffs versus 15%, 20% and 25% takeouts (for two levels, a chalk hit, and a larger hit). The average in terms of take for a pick 3 is about 24%. Notice just how much more money a player receives when he bets into a low takeout pool. And to the business - notice how much more handle you can receive when you help a player win.

Let’s take a player and see if we can illustrate. Let’s call him Jim. He is a smaller bankroll player, but he takes his game seriously and he tracks his bets. Pick 3 bets are all he does, he loves them and thinks he is good at them. He has been playing at track “A” where the pick 3 takeout rate is 25%. He takes $12 tickets five times a day and rarely looks for bombs; he tries to up his hit rate at the expense of payoffs. He hits two of them a racing night, on average, and his average payoff is $26.60. At the end of the meet (over 200 race dates) Jim is a losing player as shown below:

Tickets: 1000
Handle: $12,000
Return: 400 times $26.60 = $10,640
ROI: 0.89
Loss: ($1360)

Now Jim has read the HANA rankings and has decided to switch his pick 3 play to Retama. He begins to do his due diligence, he gets trainer and jock stats and plays on paper for a little while. After he feels at home he dives in, playing the exact same way he did at his old track. But this time he gets a 12% takeout on his bets. Using the exact same hit rate and payoff, Jim notices he has a few extra dollars in his pocket at the end of each week. Instead of getting paid $26.60 at his old track, his new wins pay $31.20. Not much of a difference right? Well, let’s see.

Tickets: 1000
Handle: $12,000
Return: 400 times $31.21 = $12,484
ROI: 1.04
Profit: $484

This one small change turned Jim into a winner - something that 99 out of 100 players are not. Overall he is $1844 richer by the end of the session, just by shopping for low takeout. His ROI has jumped from 0.89 (better than throwing darts) to 1.04 (a hard-to-come-by figure).

The interesting point with the above study, is that in case A with a 25% takeout, Jim has gone broke if he started with a $1,000 bankroll. He does so long before he finishes the meet. Guess what racing? People are reloading less and less now, because they are tired of losing and they have alternatives now, so there is a good chance that Jim does not even last long enough to play that full $12,000 handle. In case B, playing at Retama, Jim does not have to reload. His $1000 bankroll is now $1484 at the end of the meet as he has stretched it. Is he going to go buy a new car with the profit? Of course not. But he will do three things: 1) Believe he can win and 2) Up his bet size and play more and most importantly 3) Have more fun.

The pick 3 pools at Retama are about $5500 for each pool. This is not tiny, so you can go bomb searching (as long as you think about the parlay like we spoke about here) from time to time. In the above spreadsheet it shows just how much a 12 versus 25% takeout can help a player who tries to take down pools. In a pool where there are 5 winners, this can mean an increase of $140 per payoff. That is a ton of money for a player over time.

We are well aware that there are some horseplayers who will play into 25% takeout pools, and do so happily. We also are well aware that some horseplayers want to bet a higher class of horse, regardless of the price charged. But there are some players out there who believe it is not worth $1844 to them at equal strike rates to watch those races, and play those tracks. For that type of player, we encourage them to take a look at some of the offerings of places like Retama. A potential ROI hike from 0.89 to 1.04 on equal wager size and hit rates is something to think about.

Benefit to the Industry

In the big picture, it shows pretty well how much a 12% take also adds in handles for the business.

Money placed in player pockets over 200 race dates: $840,000
Churn Rate: 6
Handle generated by Retama's low takeout pick 3: $5,040,000

Now if we could only get more tracks to offer players lower takeout bets. We might be able to turn that 5 million handle increase into much more.

Please join us at HANA, we need your help

Note: The 12% pick three is also offered at Sam Houston (#20).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

DRF - Letters to Editor Are Takeout Focused

For a business who seems to deflect takeout talk as much as possible (I probably would too if my prices were high) people sure seem to be talking about it.

Two letters to the DRF seem to bear this out.


In an ideal world, every single parimutuel pool would apply a tax rate of not more than 5 percent - there is no logical justification for levying different rates of taxation on different kinds of wagers - and there would be no breakage, since there should be rounding of mutuel payoffs not just downward, as is presently the case, but upward as well. Unfortunately, this ideal world has never been within easy sight for anyone associated with horse racing.

And Two:

My feelings tell me that if racing is allowed to continue its spiral, there will be no game in a few short years. If we're going down, I would like to go down swinging.

Full text of letters at the above link.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Tough to Market Racing to Poker Players

From Paceadvantage:

Since you brought up poker, I recently caught an episode of Poker after Dark. The players were all guys who got started at the Mayfair Club, a poker room in NYC, back in the day, that produced a lot of world champion players like Dan Harrington and Howard Lederer.

During the show, the guys started talking about other types gambling. To a man, they all said that they would never try to play horses professionally because of the rake.

New Member Comments

We have received quite a few new members lately. Their comments tend to show diversity, but with several main themes. I thought we'd share some of them of late to show what folks out there want done, or looked at. We encourage everyone who signs up to leave a comment as we can find out what issues are important to you, whether you be a bettor only, or if you work in the business, or if you are like many of us at HANA - an owner-bettor.

My main issue is to reduce the takeout and eliminate the tax on tickets that are 300/1 and pay more than $600. Paul from Nevada

Paul, we are very concentrated at takeout. We think the tax is crazy and should be changed. If you have not read too much about the tax that is for one major reason. The NTRA group is making great progress on that. A player rep for the NTRA is Mike Maloney. Mike, as he commented below is a HANA member too. We at HANA feel 100% confident that Mike will represent players concerns with that panel. We offer the NTRA our full support with the proposed tax lobbying and have mentioned to them that if we can do anything we would be happy to help. If the tax is repealed, and say $100,000,000 is injected back into player bankrolls, it can result in an increase in $600M of handle. We need that in this sport to reverse the declines of the last years. There are only a handful of things that horseman groups, tracks and others agree on in racing. This is one of them, so they should all be behind it.

As a native of Louisville, Ky. now living in metro Atlanta, I greatly miss horse racing. I do not understand why this backward state doesnt allow or embrace pari-mutual betting. I beleive there is a large number of horse racing fans here who would love an opportunity to get into the game.
FN, Georgia

State by state laws make our head spin. I think it was Nick Kling of the Troy Record who last year wrote in a column 'I can sit in my underwear and buy a stock on the Hang Seng exchange at 2 in the morning, but I can not bet all tracks over the same internet'. Thanks for the Georgia note. We did not know things were restricted there. For those who don't know, Arizona in 2007 made it a felony for taking a bet on horse races over the internet.

As the question above:

Horse playing should be international. Why does US Laws do not open their minds and see there is a lot of money (clean money) that will be willing to play your tracks. EM, Mexico City

The horse betting market is the world. We have been insular with monopoly thinking - home market areas, state laws and all the rest. Other enterprises have opened markets and have been kicking our butts. Perhaps betfair buying TVG will help force change and open North American betting to the world? We agree, and thanks for joining HANA.

There are several others. We read them all. And we respond when time allows, too.

Thank you to everyone who joined HANA. Tell a friend and send them to our sign up page if you have not already. We need you!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pin Me

Our very first charter member HANA pins are available soon. Here is a sneak peek. Cost is $20. It is the only revenue we are going to have unless we hit a pick 6 together, so I hope some of you are interested in buying one.

Thank you to HANA Member Ernie C for the idea.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Epilogue - Track Ratings

After many hours of number crunching, edits, story writing, emails and phone calls, the HANA Top Tracks Countdown is over. We give a hearty congratulations to Keeneland for being ranked first. Although the scoring system was dispassionate and quantitative, we believed they deserved it.

We have received many comments from day one. Horseplayers are opinionated: “I don’t like that track; why is it ranked so high?” or “I never make money there” or "why is my track not up there?". We loved the comments, and we love horseplayer passion; because we are horseplayers. It is the primary reason we made the track ratings measurable. We knew horseplayers would all have their favorites and want to talk about them!

As you all know, we used three major metrics, wager variety, field size and takeout (the price of the product, which Mr. Beyer had plenty to say about last week). These have long been held as important to horseplayers and have been studied mathematically as correlated to handles by racetracks for generations. As a fan wrote below about the criteria “I would submit to anyone who thinks that takeout, field size and variety of wagers are not vital, to start a racetrack, offer 35% takeouts, 5 horse fields, with win betting only. Then check your profit/loss statement at the end of the year. Let us know how you did.” He/she is absolutely correct.

Further, field quality is important as a horseplaying experience, but this is hard to measure and must be married to field size; so we stuck with our algorithm. As Steve Ross, Retama’s simulcast director stated “Field size is vital, to most horseplayers ranked higher than quality. A 14-horse open $5,000 claimer with a competitive field is much preferable to a five-horse grade-I with a 2-5 favorite and no trifecta or superfecta wagering." The stats bear this out. A full field of claimers beats a five horse stakes field in handle every day of the week, when standardized. We are still batting around quality ideas for next year, though.

As for pool size, this list was not for larger bettors, as larger bettors receive a rebate. Betting into Penn National is the same as betting into Tampa Bay for whales - the rebate they receive is simply larger at Penn than Tampa, so their effective takeout is the same. If you are betting $150 win tickets, you know what tracks to play, and you know pool size, or you go broke. For someone betting $5 WPS, or $10 WPS, it is a different story. We trust that horseplayers, when doing their own due diligence on the list, will find a track or two who fit their playing profile based on bet sizing. We are all different.

HANA was incorporated in September of 2008, and we have only been around for five or six months. Next year we hope to have over 1500 members (we are currently just short of 600) and we will be tackling the track ratings in an enhanced way - with a member survey. We will also be discussing tweaks as time goes on, as we have discussed with several horseplayers and HANA members over the last week. We are also following feedback on the chat sites like, and on our fellow bloggers sites at the TBA.

As for this years rankings we have some summary thoughts-

Because the rankings are done with numbers and averages, some tracks that many might not expect to crack a top twenty, did in fact rank well. Tracks like Retama, Evangeline and Hoosier Park offer field size, takeout value and wager variety. They offer more in terms of those criteria than some large tracks like Santa Anita, or Saratoga or Del Mar (although those tracks did do well, too). Of course we are not saying that a summer afternoon at Saratoga or Del Mar is not pleasant, because it is. I doubt you will not find a HANA member who does not enjoy those meets for the qualitative greatness of their brand, and their racing. But in terms of pure value, we stand behind the list. Why? Because frankly being a horseplayer goes beyond a qualitative experience. Handicappers love the puzzle and they treat their wallets and bankrolls with respect. They love figuring out a pace scenario, using a key horse as a separator in a pick 4, or finding a longshot, or value play. If you play a HANA top ten track for a pick 4 you will find that you will receive a decent rake on the bet, you will be handicapping four races with full fields that stretches your mind, you will probably be able to play it for less than a $1 increment, and you will enjoy a possible big payoff for your work. No player wants to play a pick 4 with four short fields, a potential two races with 2-5 shots in the sequence, at a 29% takeout. And horseplayers despise six horse field trap races in a horizontal wager. I hope our list opens horseplayers and tracks eyes to tracks that will make their playing more enjoyable. We don’t expect anyone who wants to play grade 1's, or top tracks to suddenly change because that is a part of horseplaying too, but here are the tracks who offer something if you want to give it a shot.

Being a horseplayer is unique and everyone is different. I guess generally you might look at it like this: If you are sitting at an OTB and you play a top ten track, you will be having more fun. Playing a track like Churchill, or Keeneland, or Turway will allow you to enjoy yourself a little more than some of the lower rated tracks. Because when you succeed at the puzzle, play in a lower take, and play a ticket with more coverage, you give yourself a better chance to win. And here is not exactly a newsflash: Winning is fun. When horseplayers win they come back tomorrow. They spread the word about racing. They bring friends. We hope HANA’s list can help you have more fun, and put a few more dollars in your wallet.

‘Satisfied horseplayers’ should not be an oxymoron, it should be a mantra. The long-term success of our game demands it.

We all would love to see takeout lowered and we at HANA thinks this is no longer a negotiable point - it is reality. Our handicappers are a dying breed. Each day we lose another to another game like poker. We all must pull together to make racing and betting racing not a game where “everyone goes to lose”, but a game where “you can win and have fun.” We expect gamblers to flock to our sport - a sport with the unenviable tagline “you can beat a race, but you can’t beat the races.” This will not happen in large numbers unless we help players win. We have to get rid of that silly saying.

How can tracks move up the list and/or crack our top ten next year? In a word, give bettors what they ask for: Lower takes, full fields and wager variety. If you succeed in this, you won’t only be helping us, you will be helping racing grow so that we can capture a whole new generation of fans, and keep the ones we already have.

Thanks to everyone at the Bloodhorse (thanks for putting up with a volunteer organization in trying to get the articles edited and spelled right!), Equidaily and our pal Ray at the Paulick report.

Allow us a special thanks. To Bill who compiled this list along with his capable partner Raleigh, thanks for the work. To Andrew, who way back when HANA was simply an idea, offered out his thought which became this track ratings list - kudos. To Greg who wrote many of the pieces, thank you. This took hundreds of hours, and we don’t pay much, ok we don’t pay anything!

Each one is a proud HANA member, and we are also proud that our fledgling organization has been recognized the past several months for being a force for productive change. A change we hope grows the game. It’s what we’re all here for.

Thank you for reading.

If you'd like to join us, please sign up. We could use the help.

Please watch for our Top 65 tracks list out soon. This list was compiled beginning in September 2008. We will release version I (our current version of the top 65), then as time allows, with many new meets opening we will release version II. Version II will update takeout rates, field sizes (we are going on a one year field size average, so tracks that improve will have better numbers and should be rewarded since recent gains should be documented) and finally update new wagers (some have recently announced changes already). Please keep an eye out for further details

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Keeneland Video - HANA and the Ranking

Here is the video of Keeneland head Nick Nicholson speaking about Keeneland, its future, its horseplayers and fans, and the #1 ranking.

Press and Links

Keeneland has issued a press release with comments from Jeff Platt, President of HANA on their website.

As well, video from President Nick Nicholson is available there. We will work on getting this video embedded here on the blog for HANA members and our archives.

If you have a moment will you join us at HANA? We need your help.

Number One

HANA's number one track out of the 65 studied, in terms of our algorithm of takeout, field size and wager variety is Keeneland Race Course in Lexington Kentucky. Simply put, there is no better value for a wagering dollar on the Continent than at Keeneland. Their takeout score was first, field size second and wager variety second.

And it was not even close. Their final HANAscore was well over 25% higher than the second place track, and dwarfed many of the others. They were number one with a bullet.

Please read our feature article on Keeneland at the

We would like to thank everyone for reading and commenting on the list. We are currently in the stages of placing our entire list on the HANA site and should have that done by next week.

Thanks again to everyone involved in the first annual track ratings. We hope to be back bigger and better next year.

If you'd like to give us a hand in these and other ventures, please join us. It is easy, quick and free. We need your help to make this a better game for us all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

HANA Track Ratings - #2 Kentucky Downs

Please visit the to read our feature article on Kentucky Downs.

On a side note it was a pleasure to speak with Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen. His view of the handicapper was good to see. He is a handicapper. He was extremely excited about what they have planned here for their short meet and how they can grow. The takeout there is superb and the fields are full. Kentucky Downs is worth a look.

Monday, February 9, 2009

HANA Track Ratings - #4 Hoosier Park

Please click here to read our feature story on our number 4 track, Hoosier Park, at the If you have not played Hoosier and are a weekend warrior or new to the game, the low cost wagering alternatives, with decent payoffs can be enjoyable, and the bankroll can last a little longer than most of the tracks on the Continent.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

HANA Track Ratings - #5 Churchill Downs

For our feature article on our number 5 track, Churchill Downs, please visit here.

Join us at HANA. It's easy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

HANA Track Ratings - #6 Evangeline Downs

"The home of the largest fields in North America", chalks in at number 6. Read more at the Bloodhorse.

Friday, February 6, 2009

HANA Track Ratings - #7 Retama Park

Check out our feature story on Retama at

On a side note, several commenters during our top twenty countdown have mentioned Retama as a good place to play. After interviewing Simulcast Director Steve Ross and looking into what they have been doing, we agree. Steve understands horseplayers and it shows. If you are so inclined, please give them a look, and let us know what you think. Steve mentions that he reads the blog, so if you want to offer feedback it is a good a place as any.

Please join us at HANA. Every member counts.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

HANA Track Ratings - #10 Turfway Park

Please enjoy our feature article on Turfway via

Please help us at HANA by becoming a member. It only takes a moment.

HANA Top Ten Tracks Exclusively at the Bloodhorse

We would like to announce that HANA’s countdown of the top tracks in North America will be featured exclusively on One track will be featured each day, counting down from the tenth ranked track, to the top ranked track.

“We are thrilled to have our ratings featured at the,” said HANA President Jeff Platt. “I think it is a good fit. We are promoting what horseplayers are looking for in terms of wagering value, and to have that featured on a site which is frequented by industry insiders is a good thing. A dialogue between the horseplayer and other industry stakeholders I believe is very valuable.”

The HANA track ratings have been counted down on HANAblog. Tracks 20 through 11 have sparked interest and commentary. As well, our web traffic has been increasing.

"The response has been great," Platt said. "Our countdown has been featured daily at the Paulick report. On behalf of the board I would like to thank Ray Paulick and his crew for giving our ratings for tracks 20 to 11 a solid spot on his page. I would also like to thank Ryan Conley of The Blood Horse for publishing our top 10. We can not thank them enough. At HANA, where membership is free, we need exposure to grow our membership and people like Ray, Ryan, bloggers, and our friends on chat boards linking the articles are our lifeblood right now."

HANA’s top ten tracks will be released via feature articles. These articles were written with input from the tracks themselves. HANA would like to thank each track for taking our calls and answering our questions. We were blown away how open you were and how much time you gave us. Also, HANA member Greg Reinhart took time out of his schedule to write each piece. They took some time, and Greg was not paid. We thank him for his efforts.

Please enjoy the HANA Top Ten, look for all 65 tracks to be released in a couple of weeks, and once again thank you for your support.

Monday, February 2, 2009

HANA Track Ratings - #11 Tampa Bay Downs

The Horseplayers Association of North America has rated Tampa Bay Downs 11th out of the 65 tracks studied in North America.

Cumulative Takeout Score: 1.89
Field Size: 9.4
Wager Variety Score: 1.0
Best Bet: Above average pick 3's and 4's

Total HANA Score: 2.161

Rank: 11

Tampa Bay Downs scored fairly well across the board in our rating system. In addition it should be noted that like Fair Grounds, their website is excellent as a resource for horseplayers.

Richard Bauer is retired from a career in software and has for years been involved in the game as a player, an outspoken one at times. Of late he is experiencing what many horseplayers are in terms of the state of the game. "I've been on a reduced [betting] scale in racing the past 3 years as drug issues and ADW wars have made me very wary about players' status in the game."

However, Tampa has given him an outlet, and he chooses to support the venue and the pools. "I first played Tampa in '03 when looking for a track to play on Tuesdays. Subsequently I went in Dec '04 after relocating in the eastern US and have been a regular visitor there each winter since then. I just returned from 3 weeks there on the 18th and already have reservations for the whole month of January in 2010. Tampa has reduced takeout on a variety of bets since '04. They have exceptionally friendly employees and staff; and, management is accessible to discuss player issues. Valet parking is still only $5. What's not to like?"

When a discerning horseplayer like Rich chooses you, we think you must be doing something right.

HANA Track Ratings - #12 - Fair Grounds

The Horseplayers Association of North America has rated Fair Grounds Race Course 12th out of the 65 tracks studied in North America.

Cumulative Takeout Score: 1.67
Field Size: 8.8
Wager Variety Score: 2.0
Best Bet: Excellent wager variety

Total HANA Score: 2.145

Rank: 12

Fair Grounds is a decent place to play, especially for the fractional bettor who might not have a huge bankroll. 10 cent supers and 50 cent pick 4's are always a favorite of smaller weekend warriors, looking for coverage for less outlay. The Fair Grounds website is among the very best in giving out horseplayer information. The track grooming report, blogs, analysis and picks are all very well done. If you are a regular at Fair Grounds, or plan to give it a look, the website is a good bookmark