Monday, October 16, 2017

Horseplayer Advocacy

Advocating for horseplayers and betting customers is as old as the day is long. There are the very influential - Beyer, Crist, Maury Wolf - and there are the grassroots - people like you and me, on twitter, or on chatboards, who take time to post or write their thoughts. Everyone, from the loud voices the small, is their very own horseplayer advocate.

Here at the Horseplayers Association, we're no different, even though sometimes we may be looked at like we are.

HANA, as an organization, is 100% volunteer. How this works, and how people get involved is pretty simple. Let me share a case to illustrate.

One member noticed several issues with past posting (races being bet after the bell rung) over the years. He, like most squeaky wheels, tended to be ignored by the tracks he was trying to help. He got in contact, and since HANA did have some cache as an organization, he began to advocate under the HANA banner, as a member in charge of wagering integrity questions.

He donated his time on an important horseplayer cause, and shed light on various issues. Ray Paulick picked up the Hollywood Park incident, and he was able to share his findings with a larger audience. Although the problem is not 100% rectified, his voice - a grassroots one - was very important.

Other issues are addressed in a similar fashion.

One of the founding members was also a horse owner, and questions revolving around trainers and positives was something he was interested in. HANA members were as well - drugs and potentially "bad trainers" scored high on our polling of members, so it fit nicely. He worked with the RCI on their trainer positive database, as a horseplayer advocate.

Some, like Jeff, is a data person, so he, over the years has worked on behalf of players to try and get better horse racing data. Reporting first time geldings, having SMS updates from Equibase on scratches and changes, are two such things he took the lead on. Jeff hopes to one day have the gelding reporting issue solved in a way we can all be happy with.

Others wanted to address other issues that many horseplayers believe in - some of them simple things, like all tracks showing exacta and double probables in the same $1 or $2 increments, and reporting payouts in a uniform way. They took the lead on that (that we were told this was "incredibly difficult and not worth our time" is more of a reflection on the sport, in our view), as an advocate.

Others want the industry to card better races for us to bet, so he went to bat to try and get a large study completed on what makes bettors tick, through proper pricing, field size etc. The wheels were set in motion on this - with the generous help of the New York Racing Association - and there's a chance this study will be completed in the near future. 

Large issues that players complain about - let's take for example the Keeneland takeout hike - are looked at similarly, but a little different.

If the inbox is filled with an issue like this, the process involves a poll of members, gauging their support and interest, and offering a few solutions that they think are reasonable. For any action like the Keeneland boycott, the direction comes from the members alone.

HANA members are very cognizant of pricing, clearly, because our polling shows it is the member's number one issue.

At that point a few people who are behind the "boycott" and want to donate their time and money, swing into action as horseplayer advocates. (so far so good on the boycott and we thank those of you who are participating against takeout increases through advocacy).

HANA is simply a group of horseplayers willing to donate their time on an issue - any issue. No, it's not a switchboard for problems (unfortunately, and as much as we all wish it was), or an organization filled with staff that can drop everything and look into every issue.

That's why we invite you to join, and become a part of something.

If you have a horseplayer issue that bothers you (or you're interested in) that you think needs addressing, email us. If the issue is something horseplayers are also for,  the organization can open doors for you (yes, most in the industry take our calls), and you can "take the ball and run with it" as a volunteer.

We have bi-weekly meetings and can offer advice, and probably some like-minded help. Because, after all, we're all horseplayers like you who want to make the sport better.

That's what Jeff did, and Mike, and Bill and Theresia and others have done in the past. If it's something you want to do, too, we'd love to hear from you. ( info at )

For those wanting to just join HANA, we appreciate it because there's strength in numbers. It's free, and you can do it right here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Kentucky Downs Handle Update

Keeneland was down approximately $1.2 Million (-20%) yesterday. 

But instead of Keeneland, let's take a look at Kentucky Downs: 

For those of you who may not be aware, prior to their 2013 meet, Kentucky Downs approached HANA with the idea of lowering their exacta takeout from 19.00% to 18.25%. They asked if we would help promote the decrease in takeout by getting the word out to as many horseplayers as possible. 

We thought it was a great idea and were happy to help. 

So how did it work out?

Kentucky Downs Handle Recap

Kentucky Downs has seen record handle in each of the ensuing five years 2013-2014-2015-2016-2017 and has more than tripled their handle in that time. 

Keep in mind that this came about by taking the novel approach of asking a horseplayers association to help them promote a three quarter point drop in exacta takeout.

Yesterday a horseplayer asked me: "If there's one thing you could tell Keeneland they need to be doing different what would that be?"

I would tell Keeneland they need to be doing exactly what Kentucky Downs did back in 2013.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

Monday, October 9, 2017

Keeneland Fall Meet 2016 vs. 2017, the first three days

Handle Update on the site:

DOWN $4.97 Million (-14.61%)

The first three days of the Keeneland Fall 2017 meet are in the books:
Even though we're off to a decent enough start and Sunday saw them down 30%, I fully expect them to use "It had nothing to do with the boycott" and "the weather" and "field size was down" as excuses. 
So let's keep to the task at hand and remember what we're boycotting for. 
We're boycotting because we're trying to send a clear message.
We're boycotting because other tracks are waiting to see what happens and we want them to think twice before having takeout increases of their own.
Between now and Wednesday, I'm asking each of you to take it upon yourselves to reach out to other horseplayers.
Tell them about the boycott. 
Ask them to join us. 
Together we can convince Keeneland to reverse their decision.
--Jeff Platt, HANA President

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Joint Press Release from HANA and

Horseplayer Boycott of Keeneland


HANA and have jointly announced that a horseplayer boycott of Keeneland is underway, citing an increase in takeout despite a revenue windfall from Historical Racing machines located at The Red Mile as reasons for the boycott.

"Keeneland decided to hit horseplayers with a takeout increase," HANA President and  spokesman Jeff Platt said. "Keeneland claims they are going to use money raised by the takeout increase to boost purses. But higher takeout in the name of bigger purses has been tried before and it has failed, big time."

Platt cited past takeout increases as examples: 

"For the first 6 months immediately following the takeout increase at Los Alamitos in 2010 on track handle was down 27%. 

Horseplayers boycotted Santa Anita and Golden Gate in the early months of 2011 as a result of takeout increases there. Instead of bigger purses the result was purse cuts and layoffs. In October, 2011 the local paper in Arcadia, CA where Santa Anita is located reported Santa Anita was cutting one third of its staff.

Churchill had a takeout increase for their spring 2014 meet. Handle fell by 25% outside of the Derby and 
Maggi Moss reported on her Twitter account that Churchill had quietly announced a 20% purse cut for their fall 2014 meet. 

None of this would have happened if higher takeout was the answer. Keeneland is doubling down on the same bad idea."

Platt also mentioned that he reached out to Keeneland management beforehand:

"I reached out to Bob Elliston of Keeneland and we had a 90 minute phone call. We discussed the actual outcomes that arose from the above takeout increases. But it became obvious that Keeneland believes players would support a takeout increase because money raised by the takeout increase would be going to bigger purses. I did my best to make it clear that takeout increases lead to the opposite of bigger purses. In the end we agreed to disagree."

Beginning Friday October 6, 2017: Takeout for WIN-PLACE-SHOW wagers at Keeneland will be 17.50%. (An increase of 9.375% vs. last meet's takeout rate of 16.00%.) Takeout for all EXOTIC wagers at Keeneland except the pick5 will be 22.00%. (An increase of 15.79% vs. last meet's takeout rate of 19.00%.) 

HANA and are asking horseplayers to consider the idea that horseplayers are consumers and that every handle dollar bet at Keeneland is a vote for higher takeout everywhere. 

HANA and are asking horseplayers to send a clear message by not betting one track, Keeneland, for one month, October 2017. That’s it.

Platt finished with the following message to horseplayers:  

"Join us. Together we can convince Keeneland to reverse their decision."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

OptixEQ Handicaps Kentucky Downs for September 14, 2017

Today's picks for closing day at our #1 rated racetrack Kentucky Downs by Emily Gullikson are now available. 

Kentucky Downs lucked out with the amount of rain they received from the remnants of Hurricane Irma, and so today's card is a definite go.  The final program of the five-day meet has ten races, including the Franklin-Simpson Stakes (race eight) and the Ramsey Farm S. (race nine).


R1: 1-5-6 (3-9 underneath)
R2: 10-9-7
R3: 1-4-2-11-10
R4: 11-10- (3-4-9)
R5: 5-3-8-10
R6: 4-3-7
R7: 5-10-4-3
R8: 1-3-6-5
R9: 4-5-7-6
R10: 2-6-9-11
More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at
Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Check Out Vin Rogers's Book on Amazon

One of our regular Horseplayer Monthly contributors, Vin Rogers, has a book available for order on Amazon that was published this July.  Titled Horseracing From the Inside Out: Owning, Training, and Betting Thoroughbreds, it is available for purchase here.

In addition to his regular contributions to Horseplayer Monthly, Vin's work has also appeared in Horseplayer Magazine, Gallop, and other racing media outlets.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

OptixEQ Handicaps Kentucky Downs for September 10, 2017

Today's picks for our #1 rated racetrack Kentucky Downs by Emily Gullikson are now available.  After a record-setting handle day on Saturday, there are ten more races today, including a pair of stakes races - the Dueling Grounds Oaks and the Dueling Grounds Derby.  This is the penultimate day of the meet, with the final card slated for Thursday.



R1: 12-5-8-11
1-9-10 (all these horses have questions regarding surface, distance and favorable pace - at a short price vulnerable)
R2: 12-5-1-11
R3: 9-5-2-6
R4: 1-3-12
R5: 7-3-4-1 (8 try to beat on top)
R6: 7-3-6-5
R7: 2-7-6-4-10
R8: 4-2-9 (1 and 3 potential vulnerable on win end)
R9: 2-1-8-3
R10: 8-11-2-9

More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at

Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ

Saturday, September 9, 2017

OptixEQ Handicaps Kentucky Downs for September 9, 2017

Today's picks for our #1 rated racetrack Kentucky Downs by Emily Gullikson are now available.  Today's program at Kentucky Downs has ten races and features four stakes events to round out the card, including the $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes, a Grade 3 event.


R1: 10-2-4-3 (include 3 in all underneath spots)
R2: 3-8-12-13
R3: 5-2-4-10
R4: 4-11-6-7
R5: 11-1-5-7
R6: 11-2 (underneath 4-5-10)
R7: 5-4-2-1
R8: 5-6-1-4
R9: 1-5-6-7
R10: 4-11-3-12-1

More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at
Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Player Advisory

The Los Al meet that runs Sept 7th - Sept 24, 2017 is being run as a California Fair meet and not a California Thoroughbred meet.

That means:

Win-Place-Show takeout will be 16.77% instead of 15.43%.

Exacta takeout will be 24.02% instead of 22.68%.

Trifecta, Superfecta, Pick3, and Pick4 takeout will be 25.02% instead of 23.68%.

However, they have voluntarily lowered takeout at this meet on the Pick5 to 14.00% and Doubles to 20.00%.

We thought you should know because of the timing for this meet - immediately following Del Mar...

AND because (as of this morning 8:30 am pacific time) Los Al appears to be misleading the public on their website.

They are clearly describing the meet as the "Los Alamitos Fall Thoroughbred Meet." 

Screen capture - here:

The Los Al meet that starts today will have higher takeout than a thoroughbred meet.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

OptixEQ Handicaps Kentucky Downs for September 7, 2017

Today's picks for our #1 rated racetrack Kentucky Downs by Emily Gullikson are now available.  The Thursday card has ten races and features the $150,000 Old Friends S. in race nine.


R1: 8-11-3
R2: 5-13-6
R3: 9-6-14-11
R4: 8-12-4-7-10
R5: 7-5-9
R6: 8-3-7-4
R7: 10-9-12
R8: 13-8-5-10 profile favoring horses inside forwardly placed (11 can be played against on top)
R9: 11-13-1
R10: 2-6-7-8

More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at
Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

OptixEQ Handicaps Kentucky Downs for September 6, 2017

After a short delay to the start of the meet due to a rainout last Saturday, Kentucky Downs, HANA's #1 rated track, begins their five-day meet on Wednesday.  They will race again on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and finish up the meet next Thursday (September 14).

As she did last year, Emily Gullikson from OptixEQ will be providing us some handicapping insight on the blog for each of the race cards, and her preview of Wednesday's opening day card is as follows:

Opening day is always a bit tougher playing Kentucky Downs. Handicapping this unique course, it helps to have an understanding of how the track will play. I was able to look back at the OptixPLOT results from last year to help sift through the noise of the big full fields. In the route races, horses need to have some type of positional speed. Mid-pack/closer types seemed to be at a disadvantage, and when they run back can be upgraded off efforts as necessary. In sprints, the course played fair in terms of pace handicapping and mid-pack types were not as compromised as they were in routes. I will definitely modify this as necessary and identify any track trends after opening day.

Note: OptixPlot RESULTS tab is very helpful for visual running lines to see where the winners were on the OptixPlot prior to the race, and then comparing that to the RESULTSGraf. This is a very tricky track to handicap with the course configuration and horses shipping from all over. These are great tools to help with the handicapping process.

R1: 12-9-2-8-1
12 is legit; included other numbers if you want to spread or include underneath

R2: 6-9
Prefer some fresh faces in this spot. have seen enough of the 8 at Saratoga, she looks to need softer. 6 was entered with Leparoux named at Saratoga in a turf sprint and did not draw into the race. 4-10-11-12 capable to show more with the experience and surface change, just did not see enough on video to endorse for the win.

R3: 4-2-5-3

R4: 1-8-10-12

R5: 5-10-2-4
Thought this effort from QUEEN ANNE’S LACE was very good. She was a bit ignored off the 9-2 morning line, so if that was a prep and she has a move forward (will need) she is a definite play.

R6: 4-12 (legit) 1-3-8-10 (underneath)

R7: 15-16-9-3-5 (should the AE draw in they must be included, especially 15)

R8: 5-2-3-6

R9: 13-3-9-6-12

R10: 8-10-7-2-15

More from OPTIXNOTES and OPTIXPLOT can be found at

Twitter: @Mayhemily1 and @OptixEQ

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 site, the results were:

  • 77% Yes
  • 17% No
  • 6% Other

As a horseplayer I've decided to join the boycott at the 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 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.

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:
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. offers free live streaming of the races.

United States Trotting Association - 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.

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, 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.

For a web copy of this release, please visit here:


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

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


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:

The bill is Senate Bill 8 and you can read the latest analysis put out by the Florida Senate on Page 35 here:

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:


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:

Florida House of Representatives Home Page:

Find Your Elected Officials in Florida Page:

Florida State Senate Directory:

Florida House of Representatives Directory:

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


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  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