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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Excitement Builds

As opening day approaches for Tioga Downs, their meet is gathering attention and interest from sources you normally wouldn't expect. The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), a group which represents horseplayers, is sponsoring the Pen and Micro-chip Challenge, where handicapping selections will be provided by computer programs and handicappers who are handicapping the races, the old fashioned way with a pen for each racing day. The picks will be available for anyone interested in seeing them through the Tioga website and Pace Advantage. One of the computer selections being offered comes courtesy of Trackmaster and the USTA (normally cost $10 a day), yet you will get them for free. More information regarding the contest, specific computer programs, and individual handicappers can be viewed here (While not part of the challenge, I will be providing my selections for the first two days of racing in support of Tioga Downs' efforts to make racing more attractive to serious horseplayers).

Even more amazing is HANA is asking their thoroughbred players to support the Tioga program as the track is making a concerted effort to make their product more attractive to gamblers by providing the lowest takeout rates in North America. That's right; HANA is asking their thoroughbred players during Derby week to support a harness track's racing program. It goes to show you despite what some people may be saying, takeout matters.

The success of the Tioga experiment is essential to horseplayers of all breeds. While it will likely take more than a year for the Tioga experiment to pay dividends, success at Tioga will show other tracks a lower takeout does stimulate wagering. If the experiment is not successful, it may be a long time until we see reduced takeouts for all types of wagers.

Small player or big, you get to vote with your dollars.

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