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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Industry Recognizing HANA; Boycotting California

Jason Settlemoir, president of the United States Harness Writers Association, has announced that HANA, the Horseplayers Association of North America, and driver Yannick Gingras will receive President’s Awards at USHWA’s “Night Of Stars,” the annual awards banquet, on Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale.

Today’s release will look at HANA.; a release tomorrow will focus on Gingras.

Horseplayers, both Standardbred and Thoroughbred, have long been the lifeblood of the equine racing sports, but they and their concerns/suggestions have usually received short shrift from the sports’ organizations and racing officials. The self-formed HANA is trying to change that: “HANA is committed to giving horseplayers a voice” reads the very first sentence of its mission statement.

Among the areas where HANA thinks that racing could present a more attractive product to potential customers/bettors are: universal signal availability to all outlets at all times, without exception; the long-awaited and long-debated lowering of takeout rates – HANA’s ideal figure would be in the 10 percent range, a number not far off from “optimilization of handle” studies by university economists; a severe hard-line stand against drug misusage in racehorses; “pool integrity,” which they define as a secure tote system which displays correct and final odds as soon as the gate springs; and large, competitive race fields.

The horseplayers association, headquartered in Virginia, has Jeff Platt as its president, while its secretary has been Dean Towers, known to many harness racing participants. Towers owns the notable pacer Anderlecht and wrote his university thesis on off-track betting. The group’s website is

Those involved with HANA will receive their award on February 27 at the Florida banquet. (USHWA)

Tioga Downs worked with HANA to successfully roll out the lowest takeout rates in America (at that time) this past summer by reducing their rates to the lowest permitted by the State of New York.  They have periodically had conversations with the Meadowlands and other harness tracks about takeouts and other concerns.

True, HANA has historically been a thoroughbred oriented organization, but they have made a move into the standardbred world and hope to continue expanding their efforts in that sphere of the gambling universe.  When HANA recently joined forces to take part in a boycott of California quarterhorse and thoroughbred racing, they made it clear that Cal-Expo was not part of the boycott. If you have still not become a member of HANA, you may do so (membership is free) by going to their website.
Since you are reading this blog, you may not be familiar with the boycott of California quarterhorse and thoroughbred racing HANA and others have undertaken.  In an attempt to get larger fields, the CHRB which is strongly influenced by the Thoroughbred Owners of California agreed to allow tracks in California to raise their takeouts with the additional money going directly to purses; this despite the studies showing the way to increase wagering is to lower takeout; this despite the disastrous trial of a takeout increase earlier this at Los Alamitos which required them to cut racing days and the number of races  they held  each racing day.  Their rationale for an increase on exotic wagers?  Their rates are lower than some other states and they have a superior product.  Well, with all do respect, if you are selling a widget that people are resisting at one price, rebelling at another price, what is the sense of raising your price in beetween the two existing prices?
You will note while we don't cover quarterhorse and thoroughbred racing, VFTRG joins HANA in supporting their boycott.  To the left of this blog entry you will see a message encouraging people to boycott California quarterhorse and thoroughbred racing while supporting California standardbred racing.  Why support the standardbred racing at Cal-Expo?  Not only are they not raising their takeout rates, they are making efforts to reduce the takeout rate where possible.

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