Alert!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

An open letter to Horseplayers

Keeneland is raising takeout. Win, Place, and Show to 17.5% from 16% (an increase of 9.38%.)

All Exotics except the pick5 to 22% from 19% (an increase of 15.79%.)

HANA surveyed its membership about the Keeneland takeout increase.

When asked whether or not HANA should organize a boycott the results were:

  • 63% Yes
  • 28% No
  • 9% Other


When asked whether or not HANA should use the Playersboycott.org site, the results were:

  • 77% Yes
  • 17% No
  • 6% Other


As a horseplayer I've decided to join the boycott at the PlayersBoycott.org site because I believe higher takeout is harmful to the long term health of thoroughbred racing.

As a horseplayer I believe sitting on the sidelines is not an option for me because everybody in the industry is waiting to see how players react to this.

I believe that if a clear message isn't sent: Not just Keeneland -- but other tracks -- will have takeout increases too.

When we boycotted Churchill in 2014 because of their takeout increase: They were down a solid 25% outside of the Derby.

How much of that was the market speaking and how much came from us drawing attention to the takeout increase is hard to say. But we sent a pretty clear message.

I expect Keeneland Fall 2017 numbers to mirror Churchill 2014 numbers - and be down a similar 25% to 30%.

But that may not be a strong enough message.

I believe that by getting the message out to as many horseplayers as possible -- we can knock Keeneland numbers down significantly.

I am asking you to join us by not betting one track -- Keeneland -- for one month -- October 2017. That's it.

If enough players do that:

I believe that together we can convince Keeneland to reverse their decision.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

Monday, August 14, 2017

What Horseplayers have been saying about the Keeneland Takeout Increase

I've been getting lots of comments and emails about the Keeneland takeout increase.

They tend to fall into two categories:

Category #1:
--No need to boycott. Just make everyone aware of the situation and let people decide on their own.
--I believe HANA should go on a campaign to inform the handicapper of these hikes using all of its marketing power. 
--Yes, this is a stab in the back to horseplayers. But there's no need to boycott. Just let the market do your talking for you.

Category #2:
--I am livid Keeneland did this. Definitely boycott. And keep boycotting until they reverse their decision.
--And boycott Churchill too while you're at it.
--Use the playersboycott.org website and spread the word for bettors nationwide to not bet a dime with Keeneland.
--Boycott. Maybe pressure from HANA and another meet of declining handle will force management to reverse this decision. 

My thoughts and comments:

The above selected comments were cut and pasted from emails that I received. They capture perfectly what a lot of horseplayers have been telling me.

If you're a bettor you shouldn't be surprised that I've been getting about two emails that belong in category #2 for every one email that belongs in category #1.

Based on that - and the numbers from the survey:

I'm beginning to suspect Keeneland may have vastly underestimated the amount of player badwill they've created over this.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

HANA Statement on the Keeneland Takeout Increase

It was announced today that long-time horseplayer friendly racetrack Keeneland has raised their takeout rates. Win wagering, which was at 16% takeout, will now be taxed at 17.5%, while all other bets will go from 19% to 22%. The pick 5 takeout, previously at 19%, will be 15%.

This fall, Keeneland’s exacta and daily double takeouts will be among the highest in North America.

HANA has also learned that in addition to the takeout increase: Keeneland will be raising their host fees as well.

In 2009, outgoing Keeneland President Nick Nicholson said, “We’re very gratified to know that our efforts to promote large, quality fields, a wide variety of wagering options and a reasonable takeout rate have been recognized….. Keeneland is enthusiastic about the future and we’re committed to getting even better.”

Keeneland, as a non-profit under the leadership of strong executives like Nick Nicholson, had always placed an emphasis on their betting customers, with an eye to the long term health of the sport. Wagering customers were considered a part of the economic engine of racing, were catered to, and always felt home at Keeneland. This, in part, spurred handle increases in a sport suffering massive handle losses. Their strategy was clearly working.  Now, it appears that the new management team has gone the way of so many corporate racetracks by only looking at the short term numbers, and listening to stakeholders who yell the loudest.

"I was part of a group from HANA that spent a week visiting Keeneland back in April 2009," recalled HANA President Jeff Platt.  "On the day we left Nick Nicholson presented our group with a Keeneland poster which he signed. Above his signature are the words, 'Horseplayers will always be welcome at Keeneland.'  Right now I'm not sure if that's true anymore."

The Horseplayers Association of North America is extremely disappointed with the new Keeneland management's decision and will have further announcements after talking with our members. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Previewing Saturday's Mandatory Hi-5 Payout at Hawthorne

Mike from Hawthorne has written a detailed analysis for tomorrow's big super high five carryover for harness players at Hawthorne. Good luck to those playing and thank you Mike -- 

Hawthorne High Five Mandatory Payout - Saturday, July 15th – Race 10
Post time 10:45 central time
(Following the final race of the Meadowlands Pace Program)

The largest pool in harness racing this Saturday night will be in Chicago as Hawthorne has a mandatory payout on the High Five wager, with a carryover of $224,190.  The minimum wager for the bet is 20 cents.  In the likelihood the final pool is less than $1,345,140 there will be more money paid out than wagered.

What can we expect the pool to be?

In 2016 the Meadowlands had a mandatory High Five payout on Pace Night.  A carryover of $267,769 generated $747,893 in new money wagered.   The new money was roughly 2.8 times the carryover.  A similar ratio for the Hawthorne mandatory pay out would result in a total pool of $850,000.

The chart listed below clearly indicates the powerful advantage the players could have.  I need not remind you wagering opportunities like this don’t come often.

  Pool       New Money    Takeout        Net Pool        Surplus     Player advantage
   500,000      275,810         55,162          444,838       169,028            61 %
   600,000      375,810         75,162          524,838       149,028            39 %
   700,000      475,810         95,162          604,838       129,028            27 %
   800,000      575,810       115,162          684,838       109,028            18 %
   900,000      675,810       135,162          764,838         89,028            13 %
1,000,000      775,810       155,162          844,838         69,028              8 %
1,345,140   1,120,950      224,190       1,120,950              0                    0

For those of you that are new to Hawthorne, you catch a break.  There are no shippers in this race. All the participants have been racing over the Hawthorne oval for at least their last two starts.  Hawthorne sports a home stretch of 1320 feet, by far the longest in North American racing.  This allows deep closers  a realistic chance to be effective.   The field consists of twelve starters, ten horses on the gate with two trailers.


THE PARTICIPANTS
1-      Sweet Donna’s Girl   Comes off of a very solid effort in previous start, following the winner (#4 Back Stock).  Has hit the board two of her last three starts at this level.  The question is – how just aggressive Carpenter will be from the rail position.
2-      Naty   Coming into this race with very solid form.  Last week she was the victim of poor cover, closing nicely to finish fourth.  Two starts back she was the betting favorite at this level, responding with a late closing victory.  Post position two in this 12 horse field is a tricky spot.  Naty will likely start with a trailer behind her, potentially forcing Wilfong to leave for position.
3-      Rocknroll Hoochcoo   This lass appears to be the likely favorite.  Although she’s been no better than 6th in her last three starts, the two level drop should be to her liking.  Significant post relief combined with looking at her fourth start back, she beat a better field than this while parked the entire mile.  Trainer Dane May is enjoying a great Hawthorne meet.  Factoring all of the above, this filly will be the one that most bettors will rely on.
4-      Back Stock  Last week she landed a perfect second over trip to score an overdue victory at odds of 5-1. Returning at the same level combined with a potential contentious pace, puts her in position to be a big player again.
5-      Cheekie   Past performance show her last win at this level on May 20th.  After taking on better competition her next four starts, she returned to this level again and was a fast closing third at odds of 25-1.  I have to consider her.
6-      If You Say So She might be a bit of reach for me.  This is her fourth start off of a layoff and has been no better than fifth since her return.  Two starts back she finished a courageous fifth considering she was parked the entire mile.  Some chance, but one can’t use everyone.
7-      Powerful Pulse This mare should garner a lot of respect.  She didn’t fire her last start however tonight she has the services of Hawthorne’s leading driver Casey Leonard.  Her previous five starts saw her in the company of mares at a level or two better than this field tonight.  Her best can win it.
8-      Backwoods Barbie   Barbie fits with these gals, but will need an extremely fast first half to set up her late closing kick.  She never found racing room in her last off of a very moderate pace.  If others mix it up on the front end, she’ll by coming late.
9-      Alwayssmoothraigin   Strictly a long shot from out here.  Breaking at the start last week she lost all chance.  Her second-place finish was in a shorter field of eight.  Tonight’s 12-horse field will be tough to overcome.
10-   Rocknrol’s Image   I believe she is the best horse in the race.  In my opinion, this is the softest company she has faced all year.  Combine that with her new pilot, Oosting and she will attract a lot of attention.  The disclaimer is ….  she hasn’t raced in four weeks, something she will have to overcome along with 10 post in this bulky field of 12. She will be on most of my tickets.
11-   Bling   If you like playing the drop in class angle, this mare should be your price.  The other two droppers (3&10) will be two of the favorites.  Bling returns to the level that she beat as the public’s choice two starts ago.  As one of the two trailers in the race, she’ll need some luck.  This could be her lucky night if this eleven year old mare can fire from post eleven.
12-   Sister’s Keeper This gal’s last three starts have been at this level, in two of which she finished second.  I can’t leave her off my tickets. If she somehow finds a trip from here she will be a factor at a big price.
Top Contenders:
3-7-10-11-4-5
Common Races:
July 8th Race 13                                                  1-4-6-8
July 8th Race 12                                                  2-5-7
July 8th Race 11  (2 levels higher)                      3-11
July 1st Race 10                                                  9-12

Best of luck to all as this is quite a race and an opportunity to reward the bettor!

This is why you should bet this race –

Very likely the payout will exceed the money wagered           

More importantly, Hawthorne is a track that does not have slot machine revenue.  They charge a reasonable amount for their signal, offers guaranteed pools and three 15% wagers every racing night.
Hawthorneracecourse.com offers free live streaming of the races.

United States Trotting Association - ustrotting.com offers free program pages for all guaranteed pools.

Overcoming many obstacles, Hawthorne handled in excess of $1,000,000 last Saturday and Sunday.  They now offer by far the largest guaranteed pool in the United States this year.

This is a track worthy of your support.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

15% Takeout Pick 4's at Hawthorne Harness Worth a Look, Pick 5 Carryover/Guarantee on June 29

HANA is happy to spread the word that Hawthorne Harness has teamed up with the United States Trotting Association Strategic Wagering Program to offer guaranteed Pick 4 pools on the last four races every racing day.  The pool is guaranteed at $10,000 on Thursday, then upped to $15,000 on Friday and $20,000 on Saturday.  In addition to the guaranteed pools, the pick 4 takeout is just 15%.

Of special note is the Thursday, June 29 Pick 5 at Hawthorne Harness which has a carryover of $5,821 and a guaranteed pool of $17,500 at 15% takeout.  Officials with the track are expecting a positive pool given the carryover situation.  Free program pages are available for the pick 5 (races 1-5) here (PDF) and for every racing night on the USTA/Trackmaster page here.

Good luck and good racing!

Your HANA team

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

From Horseplayer Monthly: State of the Industry Q & A with Jerod Dinkin

This Q &A appeared in the May/Track Ratings edition of Horseplayer Monthly. To read the rest of the issue FOR FREE, including several more of these Q & A's and HANA's annual track ratings, please click here.

Q:  Are you enjoying the betting side of the game more or less than you were a year ago? Why?

A:  Each passing year that goes by, I enjoy the pari-mutuel game less and less for a number of reasons:

(1) The number of overlay situations has sharply decreased as there is less “dead money” in the pools. There are a myriad of reasons why this is the case, but that is a subject for its own piece.

(2) I would generally set aside 25%-30% of my yearly bankroll for the Keeneland Polytrack, which I found to be nuanced in a way that I understood while the balance of bettors did not. With the main track surface back to dirt, it’s just another run of the mill opportunity in terms of value. Nice fields, great track, wonderful place, but no longer advantageous from a betting standpoint for my personal strengths as a handicapper.

(3) Saratoga is also not what it used to be. The increased number of race dates has hurt the Spa from a betting attractiveness standpoint. Many of these fields are “Aqueduct North,” and the six-day a week schedule creates fatigue for all parties involved.

(4) There are countless other entertainment offerings out there that feature a lower price point and better customer service. I’m a glutton for punishment, but can only take so much.  

Q:  With more international racing being shown on TVG and elsewhere, along with important cards like Dubai being front and center, do you find you’re more interested in watching and wagering on it?

A: No, not at all. I really like International racing, specifically the English and French Classics, but do not know enough about it to feel I have any sort of edge nor are the post times conducive to a productive family life. Yelling for the 26 horse to win the seventh race at Moonee Valley at 3 A.M. generally doesn’t go over that well in my household.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2155466484705516802?source=hana

Q:  Jackpot bets, yay or nay?

A:  Nay, no, nein, nyet, meiyou, le, lo.

Q:  Do post drags ‘drag on you’, or do you feel they’re part of the game and you factor them into your daily or weekly play?

A:  Since Gulfstream now runs 30 races a day, 365 days a year, I just assume that every 32 minutes there is some sort of a race in Hallandale Beach no matter the day or time, so post drag is basically like death or taxes.

Q:  What’s worse, inconsistent stewards' calls, or tracks running on top of each other?

A:  Wow, that’s like deciding which of the Osmonds is most annoying. I’ll say steward inconsistency as those decisions have monetary consequences.

Q:  What were your impressions of Always Dreaming's Derby performance?

A:  Very solid, professional effort. Johnny V worked out a superlative trip and he was much the best.

Q:  Out of any of the possible Preakness "new shooters" (Conquest Mo Money, Royal Mo, Senior Investment, etc.) do any of them interest you from a betting standpoint?

A:   I think the Triple Crown races are epidemically over-handicapped. I find it difficult not to take some preconceived biases from intently watching all the Triple Crown preps which can be beneficial, but at the same time you can easily overthink it. As such, I’ll be waiting until the field is drawn to start any tangible analysis.   

About Jerod - Jerod Dinkin is a HANA Board Member, a former Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year, 6’3” small forward with suspect lateral foot speed, in the Top 50 Lifetime at publichandicapper.com, and loves nothing more than a comfortable spot on the couch to listen to the soothing stylings of Richard Grunder on the weekends.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Press Release: Kentucky Downs Again Leads the 9th Annual Horseplayers Association of North America Racetrack Rankings

Kentucky Downs, the Franklin, Kentucky, racetrack that races a short, all-turf meet each September, has topped the 2017 HANA Racetrack Rankings for the third consecutive year.

The rankings are based on an algorithm using factors indicative of horseplayer betting value, gleaned from both empirical and academic study. Key factors including takeout rate, field size, pool size, and signal distribution are analyzed track by track and weighted to produce a final composite score.

"With low takeout and a field size of almost 11 horses per race, Kentucky Downs continues to excite customers," said HANA President Jeff Platt. “Despite an abbreviated meet, the ratings algorithm does not discriminate when it comes to betting value: Kentucky Downs has it and horseplayers responded with another year of record handles.”

“Kentucky Downs is once again honored to be recognized as HANA’s number one track for the third year in a row," added C.J. Johnsen, the Director of Broadcasting and Wagering at Kentucky Downs.  "Our team has worked hard to give horseplayers the best value for their wagering dollar, and it is extremely gratifying to see such a positive response. We have the utmost respect for HANA and their rankings and look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

The algorithm ranked Suffolk Downs’ micro-meet (race dates this year are July 8-9, August 5-6, and September 2-3) second, based almost solely on their North America-low 15% across the board takeout rates.  Major tracks Keeneland, Saratoga and Del Mar rounded out this year’s top five.

For a list of all tracks rated one through 64, full ratings coverage including statistics and analysis, please visit a special 'Industry Issue' of Horseplayer Monthly, our free e-magazine at this link. http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/hanamonthly.html.

For a web copy of this release, please visit here: http://blog.horseplayersassociation.org/

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The Horseplayers Association of North America is a 3,000 strong grassroots group of horseplayers who are not affiliated with any industry organization. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. Joining HANA is free.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Anatomy of a Rules Change

On March 05, 2016 the last race at Santa Anita came off the turf and was made an ALL per the rule they were using for the single jackpot P6.

A poster named CJ summed it perfectly with posts #1, #6, and #10 on this thread at Paceadvantage.com:


Post #1:
"Last race comes off turf because jockeys say it is dangerous. First, they didn't tell anyone until after the 7th even though there were no intervening turf races. 
But the real problem is in the P6 rules. Santa Anita pays out 70% to those that hit all 6, 15% to consos, and carries over 15% if there isn't a single winning ticket. But they made the last race an all, so there is NO CHANCE of a single winning ticket. Yet they are just carrying over the 15% anyway, essentially stealing it from bettors.
It is published beforehand, so buyer beware. That still doesn't make it right. These jackpot bets open up way too many cans of worms for me."


Post #6:
"The right thing to do would be pay out all the money that was bet yesterday in this situation, not every day."


Upon reading CJ's posts in the above linked to thread - I did the unthinkable.

I picked up the phone and contacted the CHRB. I directed them to CJ's thread - and explained to them why players believe the current rule is a bad rule.

Then I asked: "What's the best way to get a bad rule changed?"

My contact at the CHRB advised me that the first step would be to get Santa Anita involved. He explained it to me like this:

"Jeff, if you can get Santa Anita on board in asking for a rules change - at that point I think the CHRB would be willing to go to bat for you."

So from there I contacted track management at Santa Anita by email. I directed them to CJ's thread and explained why I thought the current rule was a bad rule - and that I thought it could be turned into a better rule by following CJ's suggestion:

Post #10:
"I'd write the rule so that if any race comes off the turf, resulting in an "all", the entire amount bet that day is paid out. Of course any carryover from prior days wouldn't be included in that."

Track management at Santa Anita got back to me right away and we had a phone conversation. They told me they were open to getting the rule changed and that they would be getting in touch with the CHRB to figure out how the rule should be reworded and to discuss the path of least resistance for effecting a rules change.

On Tues March 14, 2017 the HANA Board met via conference call.

Two of the items discussed on that call were the March 05, 2017 incident at Santa Anita and a proposed boycott over the incident.

Because the CHRB and Santa Anita had both already agreed in principle to work together (on behalf of horseplayers no less) to get the rule changed:

The HANA Board decided to take the CHRB and Santa Anita at their word and to not boycott over the March 5th incident at this time.

Now you know why the HANA Board decided not to boycott.

It took a few days longer than expected because Santa Anita had to wait for the tote company to get the rules change programmed into the tote system.

Last night, Sunday April 2, 2017 - DRF reported that the rules change had been finalized.

Santa Anita alters pick six rules when late surface switch occurs:
Link - here:

"ARCADIA, Calif.- Santa Anita recently received approval from the California Horse Racing Board to change the rules regarding pick six distributions in the event of a surface switch after the bet is underway.
The new rule takes effect on Thursday. In the event of a late surface switch, the 15 percent portion of the net pool typically dedicated to the single ticket jackpot provision of the pool will be redirected to the portion of the pool distributed to ticketholders with six winners, or into a carryover.
In that scenario, 85 percent of the net pool would be paid to tickets with all six winners, or into a conventional carryover, and 15 percent to the consolation pool.
On a day with a late surface switch, it will still be possible for the single ticket payoff provision to be paid out, if there is a single winning ticket. That is less likely to occur on a day with a late surface switch, since any races affected by a change in surface are considered a winning leg for all bettors, regardless of selections, essentially making the pick six a pick five.
The rule change was requested following a situation on March 5 in which the day’s final race was moved from turf to dirt because of excessive early afternoon rain."


Look. I'm certainly not a fan when it comes to the proliferation of single jackpot bets.

But if you are a major racetrack and you are going to insist on having a single jackpot bet for your P6:

The very least you can do is get the best possible rule in place.

And this is a case of a racing jurisdiction doing just that after listening to horseplayers.


--Jeff Platt, HANA President



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Friday, March 3, 2017

Apparently, Florida horsemen and track management want to make ADW wagering a FELONY

HANA has reason to believe that horsemen and track management want to make ADW wagering a FELONY in the State of Florida.

Link to an article – here: 
http://floridapolitics.com/archives/232597-senate-amend-gambling-bill

The bill is Senate Bill 8 and you can read the latest analysis put out by the Florida Senate on Page 35 here:
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/8/Analyses/2017s00008.ap.PDF

There’s no way to sugar coat this:

Apparently Florida horsemen and track management want to make ADW wagering a FELONY. The bill would not be worded the way it is if that were not the case.

There’s still time to save ADW wagering in the State of Florida – but you need to act NOW.

HANA is asking all Florida residents – horseplayers or not – to take 5 minutes out of your day – and WRITE your Florida State Senators and Florida House Representatives:

TELL THEM YOU ARE STRONGLY OPPOSED to the anti-ADW provisions in Senate Bill 8 – and that you are VERY MUCH IN FAVOR of PRESERVING  ADW WAGERING FOR FLORIDA RESIDENTS.

We ask that you not just send an email – but that you also do it the old fashioned way:

Mail your Florida State Senators and your Florida House Representatives a POST CARD or a hand written LETTER. Include your name and address. And tell them very succinctly you are strongly opposed to the Anti-ADW provisions in Senate Bill 8 – and that you are very much in favor of preserving ADW Wagering for Florida residents.

Get your friends and family members to mail in POST CARDS and hand written LETTERS too. (Because stacks of post cards and letters are really hard for them to ignore.)

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and CALL. Chances are you won’t get to speak with your State Senators or House Representatives directly - but you CAN voice your opinion to their staff consultants. 

Be polite. Be brief - and get right to the point:

Simply tell them you are strongly opposed to the Anti-ADW provisions in Senate Bill 8 – and that you are very much in favor of preserving ADW Wagering for Florida residents.

If you will conduct yourself in the manner described above:  The staff consultant will more than likely say Thank You afterwards - and tell you that Your Opinion MATTERS.

Look, you can sit on your hands and do nothing. 

Just know that if you do that there’s a really good chance the Florida Horsemen and track management will get their way – and ADW Wagering will become a FELONY in the State Florida. 

Don’t think it can’t happen. Horsemen did this to horseplayers in Arizona back in 2007 and it took almost eight years to get the law overturned.

Only YOU can save ADW Wagering - ACT NOW,

Jeff Platt
President, HANA




Effective Communication with your Representatives:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/contentViewer.aspx?Category=PublicGuide&File=About_The_Representatives_Effective_Communication_With_Your_Representative.html

Florida House of Representatives Home Page:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/default.aspx

Find Your Elected Officials in Florida Page:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx

Florida State Senate Directory:
https://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/ADMINISTRATIVEPUBLICATIONS/sdir.pdf

Florida House of Representatives Directory:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx


Main Switchboard for Gulfstream Park: Phone (954) 454-7000

Main Switchboard for Tampa Bay Downs: Phone (813) 855-4401

Florida HBPA Main Office at Gulfstream: Phone (954) 457-3516

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Make Your Voice Heard on Pari-Mutuel Tax Withholding

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has set up an automated response form for horseplayers to send to the United States Treasury Department in support of proposed changes to tax withholding on pari-mutuel wagering, and we at HANA would like to encourage you to add your voice.

"With horse racing's all-important Triple Crown season fast approaching, the NTRA urges Treasury and the Service to adopt the proposed regulations as final regulations as soon as it is administratively feasible," said NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop. "Horseplayers, tracks and other industry stakeholders, including governments, are eager to begin reaping the benefits that will result from these updated withholding and reporting rules."

The form is available to fill out at https://www.ntra.com/comment/.  There are a few boxes to fill, such as name, city, and state, and is then an area to write your own message of support, or you can simply use what the NTRA has pre-filled it with.

Thanks for reading,

Your HANA Team