Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fotias On Will Rogers' Betting Race

Cary Fotias sent this to his customers this past week:

Hi Everybody --

HANA (Horseplayer’s Association of North America) is a grass roots player’s organization that desires broad changes in the game we love. As a member of the HANA Advisory Board, I encourage all of you to join if you haven’t already. Membership is free and the more members we have, the louder our collective voice will be. There is a link to the HANA homepage on the Equiform homepage.

As an independent entity, HANA is beholden to no one except its members. Players are the economic engine that drives the game, but our concerns are rarely addressed and almost never acted upon. This must change for racing to have any hope of prospering in the future.

Mike Mayo and Ross Gallo of HANA have come up with a clever way to show track management how bettors acting in unison can significantly impact handle. By supporting tracks that heed our call for change, we strengthen them while weakening those that don’t listen to us.

This initiative will take time and a much larger player base if we are to have an effect at big-handle tracks. But if industry leaders and short-sighted politicians can’t see the benefit in listening to their best customers, we must deliver an economic jolt that rocks their pocketbooks. Only then, will we see ACTION.

It’s easy to throw in the towel and just watch the game slowly wither away. To be honest, I’ve felt like that myself sometimes. I was a member of the NTRA Players Panel. We made over 60 recommendations at the 2004 Handicapping Expo, and nothing of major import has been remedied. In 2007, I worked with Ron Geary of Ellis Park to institute a 4% takeout on the Pick-4. Handle on the wager increased significantly (one Saturday, it was the third highest handle P-4 in the country behind DMR and SAR) but not nearly as much as it should have.

Of this, I am sure - Nothing substantive will change unless players themselves take dramatic and radical action. As long as we perpetuate the industry myth that we don’t really care, that myth becomes a reality. If we had mustered the support to put $200,000 a day into the Ellis Pick-4 (I bet $400-600 a day myself), we would have delivered a very strong message regarding takeout rates.

One thing that bothered me during the Ellis experiment was people saying they didn’t like the quality of races in some of the 4% P-4s. Some said they would rather play Saratoga with a 25% take. Come on guys and gals! Have you ever heard of taking one for the home team? At 4%, how bad could it hurt? Isn’t demonstrating to the industry the long-term benefits of lower take-out rates more important than the field quality of a particular Pick-4?

Click on the link below to see Mayo and Gallo’s idea and how you can participate.

Who cares about the quality of the field at Will Rogers Downs, or anywhere else for that matter? Get in the pools and mix it up for the cause.

I repeat – Nothing will change without concerted action. Until you realize we are at war and become a revolutionary, you will perpetuate the myth. Please go to the HANA homepage at and sign up NOW.

Declaration of Horseplayer Independence

When in the course of racing events, it becomes necessary for horseplayers to dissolve the financial bands which have connected them to insensitive racetrack owners and short-sighted state legislatures, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the rightful station to which they are entitled, they should declare the causes which impel them to action.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all horseplayers are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are market-driven takeout rates, sterner drug policies, the integrity of the wagering pools and the embracing of new technologies that could make it easy to bet on any race, anywhere, at anytime.

Cary Fotias

HANA Advisory Board


Anonymous said...


Well said, especially this: "I repeat – Nothing will change without concerted action. Until you realize we are at war and become a revolutionary, you will perpetuate the myth."

Anonymous said...

The man is a genuis.