Friday, September 21, 2012

Add A Quarter Million to a Purse, Get Four Horses

Gary West takes a look at the $1M Cotillion Stakes this weekend at Philadelphia Park.
  • When nobody, or nearly nobody, wants to race for a million mazumas, horsemen lack much more than good fillies. But there it is, Saturday's $1 million Cotillion at Parx Racing with a quartet of a field. 
A million bucks, 4 horses.

This year this race's purse was bumped by $250,000.

I guess if it was for $750,000 maybe they would've only got three entries. Who knows.

We've said it before, but bumping an already high stakes purse another incremental $100,000, or $200,000 (and make no mistake, these bumps are from slots money) does about as much for the gambling-sport from an ROI perspective as a Jeff Mullins poster giveaway.  Even worse, it shows no management imagination whatsoever.

Question: What can we do with an extra $250,000? Racings answer: "Let's make a purse for a stakes race bigger and get four horses"

With some imagination, how about $250,000 for seeded pools of some sort? As everyone knows, especially since Pete Denk highlighted it this past week, Pennsylvania tracks - who are awash with slots cash - charge 30% takeouts.  Out of the 68 tracks ranked by blended takeout score, Parx ranks 64th.

If that $250,000 brought in $1,000,000 of new betting, it could almost pay for itself at 25% takeout. Not to mention, it may actually give a reason for people like me and Denk to play that track once a year. It'd be $250k well (better) spent.

How about $250,000 in marketing to get people to the track to fill some seats and build a better and bigger brand? That might bring back some ROI wouldn't it? More people would be there eating hot dogs, drinking beer, betting a little, or hitting the slot machines after the races. Maybe that $250k brings in some revenue, and brings in some new fans.

Sheesh, why not $250,000 in free betting vouchers if we're going to go all out. It'd be a wicked promotion with people, local TV and radio providing a ton of free buzz. If the people who get the free vouchers churn it five times, it bumps handle by $1.25 million, to boot. Heck, maybe a few of them actually come back next week.

Or, let's just take the easy way out and add another $250k to the purse. Horsemen won't mind, and it's a hell of a lot less work. If it brings in four horses, oh well, we tried.

Welcome to racing. The easy road is the safe road with slots money.

Related: NYRA Boosts Stake Race Purses From Slots
Georgian Ups Purse For Upper Canada Cup By $100,000

Notes: Allan has a full recap for the Little Brown Jug yesterday.

Dumb bettor chats the Jug in today's Harness Racing Update (pdf).

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