This is the first of a few blog pieces which will analyze the underlying numbers that comprised the 2010 HANA Track Ratings and we start out with the pre-eminent issue that our members across the board deem to be the most important, takeout.
Takeout directly impacts horseplayers and their level of activity and is a cost borne solely by horseplayers. It is because of this that horseplayers who primarily play the lower takeout tracks will have a greater chance at profitability and more money in their pocket at the end of the day. As a lot of us learned in ECON 101, higher prices (which in this case is takeout) lead to reduced demand and negatively impacts consumer behavior as they cut back consumption and take a closer look at substitutes (which in this case is alternative forms of gaming).
The focus of this analysis is solely on raw takeout, not net effective takeout after rebate, since the presence of insidious source market fees and other restrictive business practices limit the availability of rebates for many (I live in a state which gets the award for most punitive source market fee ensuring that its racing industry will never meet its full potential, Virginia).
In addition, the focus of raw takeout is important as it directly impacts all of those loyal patrons who show up regularly at the track and put money the windows in this day and age of declining attendance.
Lowest Takeout Tracks
• Churchill Downs
Since takeout was the heaviest weighted component in the 2010 HANA Ratings, it should be no surprise that the two top HANA Rated tracks have the best overall takeout structures of the 69 tracks ranked in North America. The takeout for all wagers at both tracks is quite simple and as flat a structure as takeout gets here in North America. Takeout is either 16% for Win/Place/Show or 19% for all exotics, so no matter what your wagering preference you will receive a competitive takeout, relatively to other tracks (albeit still a bit higher than optimal).
Those horseplayers, like myself, who primarily play exotics should take special note of the 19% takeout on all exotic wagers ranging from exactas to Pick 6s. As a result, both Keeneland and Churchill Downs offer the lowest takeouts of the 69 tracks ranked for Trifectas and Superfectas and occupied the runner-up spots for Pick 6s (Gulfstream), Pick 4s (behind Monmouth) and Pick 3s (behind Retama and Sam Houston, tied).
So if you want to enjoy wagering on boutique Spring or Fall Racing at Keeneland, the spectacle that encompasses the Kentucky Derby/Kentucky Oaks or the 2010 Breeders Cup, you can at the very least feel that you are getting the best deal available for your wagering dollar due to not only the low relative takeouts at these tracks but, also the fact that they also lead the way best wager variety (Dime Supers, 50 Cent Trifectas, 50 Cent Pick 4 and 50 Cent Pick 3) allowing more flexibility to horseplayers when structuring their wagers.
Lowest Takeout Tracks – Honorable Mention
• Del Mar
• Hollywood Park
• Santa Anita
• Tampa Bay Downs
• Golden Gate Fields
While Kentucky Bluegrass may be the theme of the top tracks, Fun and Sun take center stage as the second best tracks in terms of overall takeout are Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Santa Anita and Tampa Bay Downs. The Southern California grand old dames of Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita have identical takeout rates and like their competitors in Kentucky, maintain a simplified two tiered takeout structure. These tracks sport the lowest Win/Place/Show takeout in North America at 15.43% and the 20.68% takeout for all other wagers puts then in the runner up spot behind Keeneland and Churchill Downs in terms of best trifecta takeout and honorable mention behind Gulfstream, Churchill/Keeneland for the takeout on their Marquee product, the Pick 6, and its sometimes gaudy pools. The least competitive exotic wagers from a takeout perspective are the exacta and daily double.
Tampa Bay Downs is an excellent example of a track which is doing all the right things from both an on track customer service perspective (which was not included in the rankings). Responding to player demands, Tampa Bay Downs has reduced its takeouts on exacta, Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 6, as well as daily double such that is now the second best in the country at 18% and its Pick 3s, Pick 4s and Pick 6s have the same low takeout as Churchill Downs and Keeneland at 19%. Unfortunately Tampa Bay Downs does have two wagers with high takeouts which all horseplayers should be aware of and that is the trifecta and superfecta which sport a highly unpalatable takeout of 25.90%.
On one last note, now that we have reviewed the 7 best tracks in terms of raw takeout rates. I have had the pleasure of attending the races at all of these tracks (almost all of them many times) and not only are they tracks which you can play at home knowing you will be receiving very competitive takeouts rates relative to most tracks throughout the country, but provide an enjoyable afternoon or weekend at the races if you happen to be in the mood for some live action.
To take a look at full statistics for 69 thoroughbred tracks across North America, click here.