Doug Salvatore has a piece on Goerie.com regarding PID's struggle with improving field size, and Pennsylvania's sky-high takeouts.
When we were set to task on the HANA track ratings system we had hoped that tracks and players would be more and more cognizant of field size and takeouts. From our feedback it appears this has been the case. From the article:
Earlier this year, the Horseplayers Association of North America ranked 65 North American thoroughbred tracks from best to worst.
They based their rankings on just three factors: field size, takeout and wager menu. Presque Isle Downs scored 62nd in North America and 58th out of the 59 thoroughbred tracks in the United States, besting only Colorado's obscure Arapahoe Park.
Fans were treated to a steady diet of small fields, unattractive wagering options and a Draconian takeout rate. To make matters worse, a complicated dispute over revenue sharing arose on the opening weekend of the meet that forced the Downs' signal to be blocked by Advanced Deposit Wager sites such as YouBet, TVG, Twinspires and Xpressbet.
For 2009, things have improved (sans takeouts of course!):
Fans throughout the country now can watch and bet on Presque Isle Downs from their own phones and computers. Sometimes the races are even shown live on TVG (DirectTV channel 602 and Dish Network channel 405).
Field size also has improved through the first month of this meet. Through the first 21 racing days of last year's meet the average field consisted of just 6.32 starters per race. With 21 racing days completed this year, the average field size is 7.89 starters per race.
We are happy tracks are starting to take their customers seriously, because when they offer out better field size and better rates, and show their races to all who want them, their business will improve.