23 February 2011

Shhhh! Golden Gate Quietly Decreases Purses

It appears that Golden Gate has quietly decreased purses. By comparing Condition Book 2 and Condition Book 3, horsemen are now running for less. Bottom level claiming purses are around 2-4% less, while allowance races are lower by 8-10%.

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'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.


Anonymous said...

How did you scoop Ray Paulick? I thought he was on top of what is happening in California.

Anonymous said...

luv the blog. i read it religeously. that takeout dominates the blog. enjoy reading your opinion on all racing topics.

Anonymous said...

Paulick was probably paid off by the TOC to look the other way.LOL

Anonymous said...

I see you read the Del Mar Fan Forum. You got that directly from the forum. You did not observe anything until after you read that thread that was posted about Golden Gate's purse cut. So don't make it seem like you found some great revelation.

Cangamble said...

Anon 4, you found me out. Someone posted it on the Del Mar Forum, and then someone denied it. It prompted me to look into it.

The press hasn't said boo about it. HMMMM.

Besides, nowhere am I taking credit for this. The attention isn't on me here anyway, it is on California racing, and the half truths, denials, misinformation, and secrets that seem to floating and not floating about.

Anon 1, obviously Paulick can't be everywhere. He isn't God, just a journalist:)

Anon 2, thank you.

Anon 3, it could be a personal decision by him to not run the story. I think he has too much integrity to accept a bribe.

Anonymous said...

Good work,doing the work the media doesn't wants to report on.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that after giving Mr. Paulick reasonable time to either link to this blog or mention it on his site, we have now confirmed what most everyone already thought about Mr. Paulick's integrity.....it is shaky at best.

Anonymous said...

Nice find on the purse decreases CG.

As for those commenting on Ray Paulick's integrity, from what I've heard it was already shot when in Eclipse HOY voting he voted for Zenyatta and even placed Blame 3rd after repeated efforts to try and get Seth to advertise on his site were declined. His partner in the site also voted for Zenyatta.

The Eclipse Awards are tainted when people like this have voting rights.