Kentucky Downs has lowered their takeout rates for the upcoming meet on all wagers. Exacta wagers will now carry a takeout rate of 18.25% and all other exotics will have a rate of 19%. For those more traditional players who still wager Win, Place, and Show, they haven't been forgotten; the takeout rates will now be 16% for those wagers.
Kentucky Downs gets it.. Unfortunately, most harness tracks don't. Yes, we offer 15% Superfectas and Pick 4s, but the rates on other wagers remain stubbornly high. Now, any reduction in a takeout rate is good but when you reduce the rate on your 'super' exotics, you may be attracting money, but in reality, all you are doing is sucking that money up in a huge vacuum cleaner, grabbing all those dollars and paying it out to a few horse players who while they are making a killing, seldom put the money back into the pools, at least on that particular day. In the meanwhile, those horse players who stick to the more traditional wagers continue to get soaked by higher takeout rates meaning less money is churned and those players are eventually discouraged from gambling on the racing product.
It is time for harness racing to bite the bullets and cut a break for the more traditional players. Over the long term, here is where the money is.
In monté news, Saratoga Raceway had plans to offer a $7,500 RUS race in the next week or so but it has been somewhat derailed by the NYSRWB. The racing board indicated the track could not offer purse money for a racing under saddle race; it could only contest the race if there was no purse money or the purse was paid out equally to each starter regardless of finish; in effect an appearance fee. The reason? It seems New York state law's definition of harness racing doesn't permit racing under saddle so to contest a race offering where the purse is distributed in relationship to the order of finish is illegal; despite the fact the race was to be carded as a non-wagering event. Hence, the race has been cancelled and threatens the plans four other New York tracks had for offering a RUS race.
In the meanwhile, it will be necessary to have a bill go through the New York legislature to change the definition of harness racing to allow for racing under saddle. I can't see it being a problem getting the bill passed, but it takes time. In the meanwhile, an opportunity to present something different during the time Saratoga is awash in tourists is lost.
Check Me Out in a monté race? Certainly not this year, but it appears down the road it may not be out of the question. In the meanwhile, Check Me Out returns to the races Friday at The Meadows for a PASS event. Assuming the knee boot stays up, it should be a much smoother race.
Googoo Gaagaa makes his next start tonight in a MSRF event at Ocean Downs. At a 3-5 morning line, you won't get rich wagering on him but his presence at the shore track provides a marketing opportunity; unfortunately, it will likely be ignored.