While TOC holds firm, Del Mar is having bad week

It was a good first two weeks during the Del Mar meet. The seaside oval was up 4.8 percent in average daily on-track attendance and all-sources handle was down only 0.3 percent. Nothing to dance about, but solid numbers considering some of the figures this industry has been producing in recent years.

But the figures were not so good the first three days of week No. 3.

According to Equibase figures mailed to me, Del Mar was down $2.1 million in all-sources handle for the first two days combined, and it continues to lag far behind Saratoga in exactas handle because of its high takeout on the two-horse bets.

One source said Del Mar’s total handle also was down Friday, and for the week it is down close to 10 percent.

Let’s see, Saratoga, which has a takeout rate of 18.5 percent on exactas, had five exacta pools of more than $300,000 on Wednesday and Thursday. Del Mar, which has a takeout of 22.68 percent on exactas? None. Saratoga had three exacta pools in excess of $200,000 and Del Mar had one. Finally, Del Mar had two exacta pools that totaled less than $100,000. Saratoga? Zilch.

Two and a half weeks ago, Del Mar CEO Joe Harper stood in the press box on opening day and told the media he wanted to see lower takeout rates. Jack Liebau, president of Hollywood Park, wants a lower takeout, as does Santa Anita president George Haines.

The Thoroughbred Owners of California, who received a letter signed by both Liebau and Haines about 10 days ago asking for lower takeout to help increase business, has so far failed to act on the request. Early indications are they are not going to give the tracks what they requested.

“The tracks are trying to do something for the fans and to help their handle, and all the TOC cares about is itself and their purses,” said longtime bettor and horse racing activist Andy Asaro.

The TOC continues to ignore the fact that horse racing needs three separate entities to succeed — the owners, the bettors (fans) and the race tracks. It’s a beautiful sport when all three are working together, but it can be frustrating and harmful when one of the three is looking out only for itself.

The TOC needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Lower the takeout before it’s too late. We’re not watching the movie “Wall Street.” Unlike what Gordon Gekko told us, greed is not good.

18 thoughts on “While TOC holds firm, Del Mar is having bad week

  1. The writer is absolutely clueless for having penned something so oblivious to things which really drive horse racing and the wagering on horse racing.

    Anybody who believes that the differences between public acceptance of Saratoga fare and public consumption of Del Mar fare can be summarized by mutuel takeout, is just too stupid to reason with.

    It is absolute fact: Most consumers of horse racing could not care less about the mutuel take. One need only look at business in Puerto Rico to see that much.

    Those in the know, and who are truly behind the recent legislation to increase takeout in California, can see clearly that the new takeout rates are just fine, and totally in-line with the country as a whole.

    The writer talks of Saratoga’s grand mutuel pools, but what about their purses? Can Saratoga match Del Mar’s 20% purse increase for the 2011 season?

    Just where in the heck do you think that came from?

    Del Mar racing in 2011 has so far been improved, competitive, and fun to analyze and watch. That is largely the result of the recent purse increase.

    Saratoga’s racing got more of a boost this year from the rapid demise of Monmouth as true competition, and not from anything relating to reduced mutuel takeout.

    Saratoga’s racing product has and will always be better at the core than is that of Del Mar. Tweaking the mutuel take will have exactly NO IMPACT on that whatsoever!!

  2. FACT #1: Betting on California horse racing declines meet after meet. The increase of the takeout was the last straw. I used to bet over $100,000 a month on California races. Once the takeout increase went into effect, I have stopped betting.

    FACT #2: Tracks that have LOWERED their takeout are now taking my action. Tampa Bay Downs is a great substitute to Santa Anita. Tampa keeps lowering their takeout and their handle keeps soaring to record levels.

    I challenge the “VOICE OF REASON” dispute these 2 facts.

  3. Voice of Reason: You are wrong on so many accounts, but you lost my respect when you started the personal attack by calling me “stupid.” I’m all for debating racing issues, but I refuse to debate with someone who has to stoop so low. My opinion is different than yours and because of that I’m “stupid?” Believe me, I have better things to do with my time than debate people who can’t respect others’ opinions.

  4. (imagines all the money the “HORSE PLAYER” plowed through the windows at Hialeah last winter)

    The lowest takeout in the land and nobody plays it!

    All of these morons screaming about takeout and approximately none of them are playing the lowest takeout in the land.

    I guess this reality clashes with “FACT #2″ up there.

  5. Most horseplayers stick mainly to one breed, whether it be Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, on Harness. The huge majority by far wager on Thoroughbreds.

    I guess JBob did not know that Hialeah has only offered one breed (Quarter Horses) since their return to racing.

  6. Taking the words from your sandbox here:

    “Wake up and smell the coffee”, Art. When the talk is of “horse racing”, and of “tracks”, Hialeah is as much qualified as are most others which have come up in discussions of takeout. Hialeah is more qualified than all others to date when the subject is reduced takeout.

    I know, lets paraphrase the one who seems least capable of “smelling the coffee”:

    Those apparently incapable of “smelling the coffee”, who have been “asking for lower takeout… have so far failed to act” in supporting those tracks who gave them “what they requested”.

    Now Art, anyone who could truly “smell the coffee” would have long ago understood that most of those who truly matter do not care about mutuel takeout.

    You are incapable of “smelling the coffee” as it brews in the present, Art, and one needs no further evidence of that than your implication above that Del Mar and Saratoga are separated only by a few points in the mutuel take.

    Art, for the last time, “wake up and smell the coffee”.

  7. JBob: We’re talking “thoroughbreds” here, not harness racing or quarter horses. Do you even know why there is no more harness racing in Southern California? Because nobody bet on ’em!! Comparing the takeout at Hialeah and Del Mar is just plain silly.

  8. Its obvious Art you have sucked a couple of TOC members in on your blog.


    Just because you have enough cash to own a horse doesn’t mean you are educated or have any class. This group has displayed that with the actions of name calling and being just plain arrogant and ignorant, not caring what is best for horseracing. All they care about is themselves and what is best for the owners.

    Just keep reporting the facts and ignore these folks and understand they are what they are and that they will continue to be such until they bring down the sport.

    BTW … I am smelling the coffee. I am drinking a cup right now.

  9. Fact #2 stated, “California meets have continusly lost handle meet after meet, meanwhile tracks like Tampa have increased handle while lowering takeout.”

    Bob, you didn’t disput my statements. As far as Hialeah is concerned, you are right, they had a takeout of 11%. The only problem there is betting on Quarter Horses isn’t very popular. If I bet $100 into the pool, the odds will drop dramatically. No thanks, that isn’t value.

    You say that takeout doesn’t matter? Well California’s pick-5 pools are now larger than their pick-6 pools (except when there’s a carryover in the pick-6). Why? Takeout on pick-6: 23%. Takeout on pick-5: 15%

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