The first 15 days of the Keeneland Fall 2017 meet are now in the books:
Keeneland announced a takeout increase back in August.
Win Place Show was hiked to 17.50% (the maximum allowed by Kentucky state law.) --This is an increase of 9.375% vs. the previous takeout rate of 16.00%.
Exacta, Double, Trifecta, Superfecta, Pick3, and Pick4 were hiked to 22.00% (again the maximum allowed by Kentucky state law.) --This is an increase of 15.79% vs. the previous takeout rate of 19.00%.
We polled HANA membership. 63% said they wanted a boycott. 28% said no. And 9% said other.
Based on that we organized a boycott.
Fast forward 15 days into their fall 2017 meet - and Keeneland is down more than $10M or about -8.53% vs. the first 15 days of their fall 2016 meet.
Link to handle update on the Playersboycott.org site:
How much of that -8.53% is because we announced a boycott -- and how much is simply the market speaking is anyone's guess.
At first glance, -8.53% might not look like it's all that bad for them.
As a few of you with jobs in the industry have pointed out to me -- looking ONLY at last year's numbers to this point in the meet: Keeneland is likely revenue neutral right now, or maybe even revenue positive. (But if so, not by much.)
But I think putting blinkers on and looking ONLY at last year's numbers to this point in the meet would be a huge mistake.
Last year at this time:
Keeneland was the big dog on the block among the A tracks. They out-handled both Belmont and Santa Anita. They ranked #1 in market share vs. the other tracks they compete with for handle dollars.
Fast forward to now:
Belmont has replaced Keeneland as the big dog on the block. Belmont now ranks #1 in market share among the tracks competing for handle dollars this fall.
This is significant.
Right now Keeneland is losing ground to its competitors.
Keeneland is down -$10M or about -8.53%
At the same time Keeneland's two primary competitors, Belmont and Santa Anita, are UP a combined total of $21.49M or an average of +11.7%
These are terrible results for Keeneland.
In absolute terms, Keeneland is down roughly -20% from where they would be if they hadn't had a takeout increase.
Let me put that another way:
If Ken Ramsey had appeared as a guest on Billy Koch's radio show to talk about the horses he was sending to Keeneland this fall -- if Bob Elliston had gone on Billy Koch's show to talk about Keeneland's mission in advance of their fall meet -- if Keeneland had pulled out all the stops like they did opening weekend and stuffed the entry box with an average of 100 horses each day -- if Vince Gabbert had appeared on TVG to tout Keeneland's "successful meet" -- if Keeneland had done everything the same -- except for the takeout increase:
There is every reason to believe Keeneland would still be the big dog on the block with the #1 rank in market share -- and their handle to this point in the meet would be 20% higher than it is now.
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.
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