Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Western Fair: Lower Takeout

Western Fair Raceway, a harness track in London ONT, joins a growing list of harness tracks trying to gain customers and grow their business. This meet (starting November 5th) they are offering a 15% takeout on both their pick 4's. We contacted Greg Blanchard, Assistant Race Manager and Announcer, and he was kind enough to answer some questions. Many of you would know Greg from his work with Woodbine as an on-air handicapper and host for both thoroughbred and harness events. Two months ago, Greg moved to Western Fair

HANA: What have you done for this meet that is different than before?

GB: We have added a late double, a second pick 4 and have made both pick 4's a 15% takeout, which is down from 26.3% takeout

HANA: What was the impetus?

GB: We are trying to find ways of enhancing our product for the horseplayers and wanted to do something we could promote effectively. Offering a large guarantee wasn’t a good option for us and we realize that pricing is very important to today’s horseplayer, so we thought this was a good way to go.

HANA: Is it hard for a small track to get noticed?

GB: No question; at least on certain days of the week. There are times when you can get absolutely buried in product so I think it’s very important for a track like ours to be placed in the optimal time slot, like Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (3:35 p.m. post) and to do our best to offer the customers a solid betting option.

HANA: How is the pool size now and what would you consider a success?

GB: Currently, the pick-4 isn’t one of our largest pools, but I think that will change with some focus placed on it. I’m confident it will become our signature bet and that we can easily double, maybe even triple the existing pool size with strong promotion and good, competitive racing within those pick-4 wagers.

HANA: Will you be picking the pick 4's on the pre game show? And will you be promoting it on screen/anywhere else? Is it starting today?

GB: Yes, I’ve started doing an enhanced pre-game show on Mondays and Tuesdays, where we are featured on HPI TV. We’ll be doing the same on Thursdays now that we’ve added that day. I’ve been focusing on the pick-4 already and obviously will continue to make that the focal point of our shows. I’ve always believed that looking at those four specific races in the pick-4 can also encourage wagering within those races themselves.

We have already added the late win-4 and a late double to the wagering menu. The new rate of 15 per cent does not go into effect until This Friday, November 5. We wanted to start this long before now but there were regulatory issues we had to take care of first.


It is very nice to see people like Greg, and Western Fair, working their product. It is good for them (increased handle over time) and good for horseplayers (more money in their pockets so they can enjoy the game more). It also can attack - in even a small way - the thousands upon thousands of horseplayers who have left racing for other gaming pursuits. In a game with the tagline for gamblers of "you can beat a race, but you can't beat the races" such initiatives are vital to its long-term success.

Western Fair joins several other venues (like Tampa Bay Downs, Balmoral, Pinnacle, Pompano Park, Portland Meadows, Retama, Tioga, Maywood Park) on the HANA "support" list, who have all lowered takeout in the recent past. We encourage all harness players to give this new low takeout bet a look.

Track: Western Fair Raceway
Website/Free Programs (pdf): Western Fair
Where: London, Ontario, CAN
Signature Race: $300k Molson Pace
Available: At simo centers & many ADWs
Track size: Half Mile
Post Times: M, T, Th at 3:35. F and S at 7:05E
Best Bet: 15% takeout pick 4's
Handicapping note: The outside post (seven) this season has the highest win percentage at any half mile track at an amazing 7.3%
Two year PP stats below

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