Nick Kling yesterday explored what has been happening in California recently in a column. In it he openly opines that with business this poor so far, a purse cut might be coming:
"To them it is a simple equation -- raise takeout and there will be more revenue to divide among the track, horsemen, and taxes. Just the opposite is poised to happen in California. Purse levels at Santa Anita are likely to be cut before the meet is concluded and the resulting revenue stream to other recipients will decline as well." he wrote.
Nick also looked at the article posted here at HANA, on poker players and sports bettors views of horse racing.
He seems to have a point. Steve Crist mentioned when the takeout hike was passed via the article "Caifornia Board Skews Takeout Tale". With comments from California early that this should help get full fields, promote better racing and so on, that appears to not have happened thus far. Even handle "per race" is down quite a bit from 2009 numbers. And since they have raced even fewer days so far than last year, the gross number is much larger than even that. Meanwhile of course, tracks like GP (up 17% so far) and Tampa, seem to be doing just fine. In addition, Fair Grounds has announced a purse increase of 5% due to brisk business at the betting windows.