Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cary Fotias - Seeking Change and the Ellis Park Pick 4

In Horse Race Insider this morning, "Indy" wrote a wonderful piece summarizing the work, beliefs and views of the recently passed away Cary Fotias.

Cary was a true horseplayer advocate. He rarely got bogged down in minutiae, and always kept his eye on the prize: Horseplayer respect, market driven takeout rates for everyone, and a hopeful growth in the game he not only played daily, but adored.

Cary, who spearheaded the Ellis Pick 4 4% takeout bet way back in '07, was revolutionary. Although some track executives balked when it did not have quadruple or more the handle it did the previous year in week one, the industry was taught an important lesson. Despite the bet not being offered in many jurisdictions, average handles increased from the $15,000 range to an end of meet $42,000; on claiming crown day the bet even approached a $100,000 pool. Players were playing lower takeout bets and were opening up new ADW's who were taking the bet. This had never before been seen in horse racing.

If we fast forward to today, even California (who raised takeout late the previous year and were skewered) offered a low takeout pick 5 to save their hides in 2010.  You can't go to any track (well, maybe not some in Pennsylvania) who do not offer a lower takeout bet on their menu. Each time you cash a low rake pick 3 or double at Lone Star, or a pick 5 at Del Mar, or a new pick 5 at Belmont next meet (they are offering a 15% takeout pick 5 then, if all goes well), or a win bet at Woodbine (they reduced win takeout to the lowest in North America just this year), remember the Ellis Park Pick 4. Remember Cary Fotias. That extra money you get back to enjoy the game more, rebet, and become a happier customer, probably in no small way has his name on it.

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