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Thursday, March 26, 2015

How a Small Ontario Harness Track Outhandles Gulfstream

On Tuesday, at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ontario, the Super High Five pool - the regular pool, no carryover - handled close to $18,000.

In South Florida, at Gulfstream Park - the same day - the Super High Five pool handled just over $10,000.

No, we won't compare other pools, and we realize that Gulfstream is one of the most popular racetracks to wager in North America. But, this is fairly stunning. Not long ago Western Fair could barely handle $150,000 per day. One day this year they handled over $700,000, and their Super High Five pool has reached a pool size where things are snowballing.

Greg Blanchard, Western's GM, with a comment yesterday:

"Speaking as a smaller track operator at Western Fair, the Super Hi-5 has become a 'go to' wager for us, especially when there's a carryover. We've seen pools with upwards of $40,000 of new money wagered after carryovers, there's no way we'd generate that type of single pool size typically. This is a substantial single pool for a track of our stature. These type of wagers have helped us a lot and offer something that horseplayers are looking for."

This did not happen overnight.

First they created the bet with a 15% rake, to highlight it to the masses. Then, each day, they continued it and promoted it the best they could. When they do get a carryover (note carryovers are lower takeout), the masses started to pay attention more and more.

Second, it's a harder to hit bet, on a half mile track which is formful. It allowed for better payoffs.

Third, its 20 cent minimum was liked by average or mid-sized players.

We often hear small tracks have no hope to grow handle. In some cases that may be true, but Western Fair proves that when you offer a bet with some value, over time, players will come knocking. Congratulations to Greg and his team.

Note: Yesterday evening we learned that the takeout rates on the Dubai World Cup card are 27% for exotics and (we just learned) 20% WPS.  It has been that way the entire meet. As far as North America goes, Mike Dorr and Charlie Davis have been feverishly compiling data from racetracks, and the 2015 Track Ratings will be released in the Horseplayer Monthly magazine (monthly issues are free here), within a couple of weeks.

- Thanks to Michael A from Balmoral for pointing out the Gulfstream/Western Fair handle numbers to us.

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