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Monday, November 29, 2010

Hialeah Debuts 12% Rake on All Wagers; Poison Pill for NJ Racing

It will be curious to see how handles are impacted at standardbred and thoroughbred tracks starting this Friday, December 3 when Hialeah Park reopens.  Yes, Hialeah will be racing quarterhorses, something less popular than harness racing, but with Hialeah introducing a 12% takeout on all wagers (including exactas, trifectas, superfectas) for their short meet. which runs primarily Friday-Sunday through January 23, 2011 with a 2:05 EST first post,  it will be interesting to see how their signal is received.  Those who typically would never play a quarterhorse race may be tempted to do so at at 12% takeout.  Of course, to be attractive to gamblers, there needs to be pools sufficient to wager into; something which was not the case last year.

Realistically, being a day time track, the impact on harness racing should be minimal.  But if you are someone who looks at horse racing only as a gambling activity, Hialeah may be your cup of tea.  After all, a 12% takeout translates to payoffs 40% greater than they would have been last year.  Needless to say, Hialeah's gambit is an experiment worth watching.

SBOA President Tom Luchento is confident that there will be a meet at the Meadowlands in 2011.  The fact we are talking about whether or not there will be a meet a mere 32 days before the start of the new year is damning in itself.    I have no doubt if up to Christie and Hanson, there would be no meet at the Meadowlands in 2011.  Fortunately, for racing there is a poison pill which may influence the Governor.  Without the approval of the SBOANJ and the thoroughbred horsemen to reduce their race meets below 141 days each at the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, there will be no ADW or OTW wagering in New Jersey.  As of today, I don't believe the legislature will change the legislation requiring the approval of the horsemen to continue ADW or OTW wagering.  That being said, I wouldn't put it past Christie from suddently uncovering new horsemen groups willing to accept fewer days of racing to allow OTW and ADW wagering, but the chances of that happening is slim being court fights would be tying the governor up. 

The problem of course comes that the Governor has the ability to veto the minutes of the NJSEA so it will not surprise me to see the Governor veto the minutes with regard to purse distributions..  So while racing will likely occur at the Meadowlands, purse accounts may be lower than the horsemen ever expected.  It would not surprise me to see the Meadowlands and Freehold racing similar quality of horses. 

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