For example, I noticed that an allowance non winner of one other than dropped from $34,000 to $31,000.
I can see why this has been kept quiet, there are a few 3 or 4 letter organizations that have their tails between their legs right now. The infamous takeout hike in California, which put the cart ahead of the horse, has been an abysmal failure. Not only has the higher purses not led to bigger field size (Golden Gate is down around a quarter of a horse per race this year), but it has led to an unprecedented Horseplayers Revolt that may or may not be responsible for the 20% decline in handle at Golden Gate so far this meet.
For sure, there is less value for Horseplayers. Higher takeout means lower probable prices, and they break the regular Horseplayer quicker as well, causing them to pay less attention to racing in general over time.
Santa Anita came out with "their" numbers to date. "They" claim they are only down 7.9% so far this year. But for those watching carefully, including "them," the recent numbers look like a horror story.
In the last four weeks, total handle is off over 20%, while total purse money given out is only up 4%. Two major things here, one is that the Mid Atlantic Co-op didn't start taking Santa Anita's signal until the last week of January last year. This meant that for the early part of Santa Anita's meet this year, Santa Anita had around a 10% larger audience than it did a year ago. Comparing the same potential bettors to the same potential bettors could only be done the last four weeks to date. Here is how those numbers look:
The other important thing to keep in mind is that they have cut Wednesday's out. This means they are giving out more purses per race, but running less races. And lately, the Horsemen, jockeys, jockey agents, etc. have only been competing for 4% more money. How long before they are competing for less money than last year. If the 20% decrease in handle keeps up, it won't be very long at all.
Solutions to California's problem cannot be solved by raising prices to the bettor. That wouldn't work if Wal-Mart was in trouble, and it won't work in horse racing either. The costs to own horses horses need to be cut. No reason why it should cost $100-$125 a day in California and only $55-$65 a day at Penn. Sure, maybe a little higher, but not that much higher.
Lower prices means more owners. Yes, purses are important too, but for many, it isn't how much you win but how much exposure to losses you have.
The powers in charge are very aware right now they screwed up. Hollywood Park owner Jack Liebau met with a huge group yesterday including 3 HANA members.
Craig Walker chimes in about California racing. He says that drastic changes are needed.
WOODBINE CUTS PURSES 2%, BUT DOES IT THE RIGHT WAY
Woodbine's bottom line, as speculated here, was down a bit last year despite a handle increase which bucked the industry trend.
“Even though our handle was up last year a lot of that increase was coming from outside Ontario, which means lower commissions for us, and the contribution to the purse account was minimal.”
Woodbine finally allowed the big rebate shops to take their signal last year. This created larger pool sizes and has helped put Woodbine on the map amongst some of the biggest bettors in North America.
Sadly, they have failed domestically, and this is due to higher than average track takeouts, which their live customers have to deal with.
Woodbine is on the improve mentality wise since David Willmot left the boat and they are doing things right, finally.
Things like cutting the major stake races exorbitant purses to not so exorbitant purses is proof of that. Giving out $1.5 million for the Canadian International instead of $2 million will not hurt the quality of the field going forward one bit. And that is now $500,000 more that doesn't have to be taken away from the domestic horsemen.
Another great move is to move the big races to Sunday, when there is less competition as most of the American tracks card their big races on Saturdays. Now that Woodbine is on the map, Sunday's can be Woodbine's day.
Woodbine has good momentum right now. But now with a very good foundation in place, it is mandatory that they lower takeout rates and start to grow domestically.