Thursday, July 7, 2011

2011 HANA Track Ratings Released Here

2011 HANA Track Ratings Released: Keeneland Tops List for Third Year Running, Monmouth “Elite Meet” and Retama Move Higher, California Tracks Fall


(Charlottesville, VA, July 7th 2011): The Horseplayers Association of North America has released their annual Track Ratings.  In 2011, Keeneland, which is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, was the number one rated track in North America. 

“With takeout rates of no higher than 19% on any bet, a field size of over 9 horses per race, and an average pool size of over $700,000 per race, Keeneland came out on top once again.” said HANA President Jeff Platt.

“We are so honored for Keeneland to earn a third consecutive ranking as HANA’s top racetrack in North America,” Keeneland President & CEO Nick Nicholson said. “Our great team at Keeneland strives every day to go the extra mile in delivering quality service to our fans, and I believe that is what sets us apart. I sincerely thank all the wonderful Keeneland employees for their efforts in achieving this milestone.”

The HANA Track Ratings are based on an algorithm designed by HANA Board member Bill Weaver, a retired engineer. Using studies and empirical data which are directly correlated to horseplayer value and handle growth, namely takeout rate, field size, wager variety, pool size and signal distribution, a composite score is tabulated, and tracks are ranked. The rankings are posted on HANA’s web page, which allow horseplayers and potential customers to sort data on the various categories, as a resource.

This past year there have been several changes in the way racetracks have catered to their customer base, as some have lowered takeout and/or concentrated on providing a bettable product  via an increase in field size. These were reflected in the algorithm, and its resulting rankings. The wildly popular “elite meet” at Monmouth last season vaulted the oval from 34th, to 6th. Retama, who has been struggling without alternative gaming, has also tried its best to cater to customers. Their low 12% takeout on doubles and pick 3’s as well as their huge field size of 10.62 horses per race (tops in North America) moved them from 10th to 4th.

Third ranked Tampa and fifth ranked Gulfstream also scored well and have the most potential to move up and challenge Keeneland’s number one ranking in the future. Their high three and four horse vertical wager takeouts are weighing them down somewhat in the rankings.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the historically highly-ranked California tracks took a tumble. With some of the highest two horse exotic takeout rates in North America,  Del Mar (8th in 2010, 26th in 2011), Santa Anita (13th in 2010, 37th in 2011), Hollywood Park (15th in 2010, 30th in 2011) and Golden Gate Fields (32nd in 2010, 48th in 2011) all lost ground. 

The complete list of 2011 racetracks and all available sortable metrics can be found at:

To look at our methodology and algorithm for the ratings system, please access the player resource section of our website here :

To contact us at HANA, please email us at info @

For a web copy of this release, please visit here:
The Horseplayers Association of North America is a grassroots group of horseplayers, not affiliated with any organization, who are not pleased with the direction the game has taken. HANA believes that both tracks and horseman groups have become bogged down with industry infighting and have completely forgotten something: The importance of the customer. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, wagering integrity, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. HANA is currently made up of over 2000 horseplayers (both harness and thoroughbred) from almost all US states and Canadian provinces. It currently represents over $75,000,000 of yearly racing handle.

Our web address is and interested horseplayers can sign up there for free. We are horseplayers, just like you and we are trying to make a difference. We need, appreciate, and ask humbly for your support.


Unknown said...

Can you please talk more about "signal distribution guide"? I don't understand what the letter in that column means? Is it a key to something? A grade?


HANA said...

Hi Eddie,

From the methodology on the website:

Signal Distribution

The biggest area of growth today in horse racing is the ADW market. 20% of all handle goes through the internet, and that percentage is increasing. To distribute a tracks signal to advance deposit wagering companies, so people can play racing with the convenience needed in modern society, a track charges a "signal fee", and these fees vary. A reasonable signal fee allows horseplayers to benefit through i) Player Rewards and ii) Innovations to ADW platforms, which helps grow racing. A high signal fee has the exact opposite effect. In addition, when a track makes a signal fee available to all ADW's with a minimum of restriction this is an added convenience to horseplayers because this ensures they do not have to belong to more than one ADW.

The letter grades given for Distribution are as follows:

Letter Grade "A": Reasonable Signal Fee and Minor or No Restrictions
Letter Grade "B": Moderate Signal Fee and/or Restrictions.
Letter Grade "C": Moderately High Signal Fee and/or Restrictions
Letter Grade "D": High Signal Fee and/or Restrictions
Letter Grade "E": Very High Signal Fee and/or Multiple Restrictions



ml/nj said...

Any rating system that doesn't have Saratoga in the top three is obviously absurd. So is one that gives Gulfstream, which expects its patrons to watch on TV, any sort of positive rating.

Anonymous said...

There is something absurd at Saratoga- 26% takeouts.


ml/nj said...

Saratoga sometimes takes 26% on lottery bets. Maybe it's absurd that you make lottery bets at a racetrack? They take 16% on my bets which (sadly) is among the lowest takes in the country.

Rich N. said...

I appreciate what HANA does, but you need to tweek your algorithm. Putting Fonner and their 18% wps take above Del Mar? Putting WRD above Hollywood? It looks ridiculous trying to punish So. Cal like that.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, a lot of us care less about takeout than a lot of other things. Not that we don't care about takeout, and not that we don't wish it were lower everywhere.

But handicapping isn't like a casino. If someone forced me to play random games of chance, sure I'd go to the place with the lowest takeout.

But I like to think part of my edge comes from knowledge of the game and familiarity with certain tracks. If the odds suck, I don't bet. If I see an overlay, I do bet. So I care more about dramatic late odds change than takeout.

Maybe to the whales using computer programs who cause those late odds shifts, all tracks are the same so rhey might as well play the one with the lowest take and best cash-back program.

But I can't imagine most ordinary horseplayers using these ratings in any way in deciding where to play.

Anonymous said...

Southern California punishes itself with its self-defeating scheme to raise takeouts (to absurd levels on two-horse wagers).

The real question for me is whether or not a race-track gives handicappers an opportunity to find value. Some industry insiders think a real measure of quality racing is purse size. Even some fans would similarly argue that the better tracks have bigger purses and graded stakes caliber racing. But HANA's system is seemingly geared towards value-minded horseplayers.

Admittedly, So. Cal has the lowest take out on WPS of any major track at 15.43%. But they also have increasingly short fields and oppressive takeout rates on every other wager.

I think the metric used by HANA is quite fair. My personal feeling is that a track like Saratoga deserves a slightly higher ranking given its 18.5% takeout on two-horse wagers and 16% takeout on WPS (coupled with reasonably large fields). That being said, I spend approximately 50% of my bankroll on exactas and doubles--so I'm biased. HANA's system is comprehensive and looks at the entire picture (which explains the high ranking for Tampa Bay Downs with its value-priced exotics).


Anonymous said...

Nice post Jeffrey.

If it's popularity, there is an easy ratings system- the tracks with highest thru lowest handles are 1 thru 67.

.... but if a track has 25% blended takeout + field size <8, good luck making any money. I would not want that track given any positive press. We've been robbed for long enough.

Speaking of WRD- they exported their signal everywhere this season, and had a nice field size and decent takeouts. Handle was up 92%. Maybe the HANA chart shows exactly what horseplayers want(?)