Two Ears, One Mouth

by Ed Meyer

posted on April 8, 2010 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

I was watching a video with Dana Parham, who last year wagered around $300 million dollars. I listened intently, and took in how he and his staff make multiple wagers at the buzzer; what they consider great prices, and what they are willing to take with their computerized programs.

Knowing that people like this exist (and he claimed that there are at least 5 other major groups that he knows employ the same techniques), I started thinking and I want to keep the game afloat. I think groups such as his can impact the bottom line of every track they play in the sport.

One – We need a “Big Brother.” A monitor who watches: New York, Florida, Kentucky, Chicago, and California. These are the homes of major circuits, and how many times have you seen them walk on top of one another? I was watching a race at Tampa Bay today, and they fiddled around with a couple of late scratches. By the time they hit the gate, they were on top of a G-2 race at Keeneland. Now, the handle would not have doubled. But what would it have hurt to have the monitor call the stewards at the track, who are the ONLY body of officials who can extend post times? Ask them for a couple of minutes. What would it hurt, and how much could it help? We will never know, as there has been nobody in racing that has employed this time advantage. I was watching the races at my home track where I work. On a Tuesday afternoon, the win pool was $15,000. They had a scratch, and had to unsaddle at the gate and had to remove the numbers above the post stalls. This all was for the benefit of anyone watching at home or on computer. The three minute time lapse made me take notice of the $32,000 win pool. C’mon, you say… Yep… It not only doubled, it went higher on a no-nothing claiming race on a Tuesday, when there is not much action out there. So, you decide….

Two – We need to drop the takeout rates a few % points. The players are already facing disadvantages in racing. Take it down 2%, and watch your handle grow. You need to promote your takeout rate, and for the players who wager, they will stand and take notice. Less is more in these days. Smaller fields should yield a smaller takeout, and this will keep more players in the game longer. Just as a last thought, racing should not have the IRS tax code it currently has. We need to do away with 600-1, and make it 1000-1. No more anything over $5,000 gets the “tax-ax.” Allow players to pay Uncle Sam later. Let’s keep the money in the game.

Three – Every state needs to focus on a race of the day…. We can move it around from track to track, and promote the hell out of it. It should be in-state, and all tracks having wagering should talk this up on TV, and have the race in the front of the program. It will take notice, and this will not only draw more attention to your product, but it benefits the state.  Everybody wins! It can be sponsored, and the money made can be dumped into the pools. Every little bit helps, and I want to keep the attention on the runners. The in-state plan may work. If it doesn’t, then we are right back where we are now…..

Four – If your track runs 100 days, you need to drop back to 75. Take a look at Monmouth Park this summer and get back to me. Once again, less will be more. Bigger field sizes allow for more wagering. More betting increases purse size. Better pots draw bigger horses and outfits. Players follow bigger barns, and the rest is history. Less is more. In this economy, we need to examine everything that will keep patrons coming in the doors. Turfway Park was an excellent example, as you heard from our Internet guest Bob Elliston. The president of the track made a bold move, and wanted less to create more. It worked, and when they went back to an extra day the closing month, their field sizes dropped, and the handle went down.

I am off the soapbox. I started as a fan, and as you are and will always be one. I believe we can survive, but it won’t be easy. Long ago, racing was the only game in town. Now, you can wager just about everywhere. We need to rethink things and drop back and punt.