All the qualitative factors that I like in a track were there, and the it seems the quantitative ones are too. Again in 2012, Keeneland was ranked the best track on the continent in terms of horseplayer and handle value - takeout, field size, pool size, wager variety, etc - by the Horseplayers Association of North America.
One thing that strikes me about Keeneland is the constant want to get better. I have, over the years, met or presented on panels with horsemen folks, track execs, government people - the people who control our sport. Almost all the time the discussions are cordial and I learn something. One executive that stands out in many ways is Keeneland CEO Nick Nicholson, though. At a meeting not long ago, and one that tends to happen every year, he asks people like me and you, "what can I do to make this place better for our customers". It's the first thing that comes out if his mouth. Most people start conversations like that with "well, I can't do much because of a,b, or c", but not with him.
By asking players what they want, he's delivered as well or better than any exec out there, in my opinion.
Players like Trakus. Keeneland has it.
Fans like HD pictures. Keeneland has them.
Players like lower rake, Keeneland has it.
Players like nice field size, Keeneland has it.
Smaller players love wager variety and incremental bet size, Keeneland has them.
Smaller players will embrace fractional wagering. This year, Keeneland has it.
Bettors want to bet at the track via mobile device, Keeneland has it.
Even polytrack was a pro-bettor idea in the beginning, no matter how it turned out, or what anyone thinks of it now. He had a speedway with an inside bias, spring weather made the track a bog. By installing poly, it was hoped that field size would increase, sloppy tracks would never again return, and they'd have a better racing product to increase their betting business.
When some folks started to complain about it, they didn't wring their hands, they created a polycapping database on their website, which yields angles for sharp players. They also worked diligently with track maintenance crews, trying their best to get an unbiased surface. The Keeneland surface of 2011 was much different than its original several years earlier.
One day, and this day is coming, every track will have to rely on one thing and one thing only to survive and thrive: The betting customer. At Keeneland you are not a necessary nuisance, you are a big part of why they exist.
Note: To see the ratings and metrics for all 68 tracks in North America, it's here.