- "We've taken a different approach on standardbred. We raised our guarantees starting [this past] Thursday night to $75,000," Martin told Trot Insider. "It has to do with the takeouts at other tracks. Thoroughbred is more competitive than standardbred with takeout, that's not a secret."
So far, slots being removed from the equation in Ontario - from an end user perspective - has resulted in a loss of Trakus and an end to the Score show, at Woodbine. On the flip side, we see a rake reduction and an increase in a pool guarantee.
Woodbine held a rally Monday to try and drum up some support for a casino in Rexdale. This, as I have written many times here, I think is the best course of action for Woodbine. That and government lobbying as they have been doing seems to be working. Woodbine has always been good at this course of action. They've been around for a long, long time, and have worked closely with all forms of government.
As for handle, I think they'll probably have to be more aggressive with customer-centric promotions, or they will have a tough year.
Things have gotten very competitive in horse racing the last few years. After what feels like decades of few changes - anti-customer changes rather than pro-customer in many cases - things have started moving. Rainbow sixes, changes in takeout rates, rebating, "paying people to play" have probably saved racings yearly handle numbers from falling into the $8B per year range. It's not that long ago that rebating was a bad word in the sport and paying people to play was specifically abhorred at the old OJC/Woodbine; now it's commonplace. Players are expecting more and more each year it seems and they are slowly (especially in places without slots) becoming perceived as being important rather than a useful nuisance.
It will be very interesting to see what 2013 brings for the thoroughbreds and standardbreds at Woodbine. The thoroughbred meet begins this Saturday, and harness racing continues until stakes season begins at Mohawk in May. If you are a thoroughbred player you should be giving Woodbine a look. Low win rake and high rebates (if you are at a rebate shop that carries the signal), and larger than average field size can be fruitful.
Notes: News on the Rudy Rodriguez licensing hearing today. People can call it what they want, but Kentucky sending a signal that they take these things seriously sends a message to the industry - if you are a miracle worker off the barn change, have a history, and have medication violations, you can't just skate through like no one is minding the horse racing store. It's not 2005 anymore.