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Kentucky Downs' Niche and the Modern Gambler

The Kentucky Downs meet continues today after a very good opener on Saturday.

This suburban Nashville track (don't hate, Kentuckians, we know it's in Kentucky!) has seen handle grow precipitously the last several years - from about $900,000 per day to well over $3 million. It truly is a little success story.

Although the reasons are obvious -- a nice use of gaming purses attracting decent stock, deep fields and lower takeout - the overarching reason is simple, in my view. This track, this set of races each day, hit the modern gambler right between the eyes.

For value seekers in the sport, there are really few tracks to play. North American (primarily) dirt racing is short fields with a 2-1 shot, and two 5-2 shots. It's parimutuel checkers. It's improbable to win at the end of the year betting an odds board that is most likely fair, at 20% boat, with upwards of 45% chalk.

Although it's fun to grab winners in fields like that, and on any given day we can make money betting those fields with solid handicapping, at the end of the year the modern gambler will have great trouble coming out ahead.

In past years, tracks like Keeneland provided us with some value; some chance to make scores and come out ahead using our wits. Now that the old Keeneland has been replaced, there are simply no tracks delivering this type of gambling experience - race by race, raceday by raceday - to a mature gambling customer.

Except Kentucky Downs. The Dueling Grounds is filling a major-league handicapping void.

For players like Ed Bain - who revolutionized trainer, horse and jockey stats and made money with them for years, until the data was common - he (and you) can still ply your trade at Kentucky Downs. Handicapper Lenny Moon used them wisely just this week on twitter, and cashed a couple of decent priced horses with them.

For players who like and need the all button to achieve success in superfectas or other deep exotics, that button can be used at Kentucky Downs.

There is enough chaos, and 50-1's can and do hit the board, juicing up exotic prices.

For serial bet players, $20,000+ pick 4 will pays can and do occur, just like we saw last Saturday in the late pick 4, a sequence that we can describe as not overly difficult.

This also helps us understand why some tracks have a hard ceiling in handle. You can only squeeze so many dollars out of gamblers for a six horse field of dirt horses. Kentucky Downs, on the other hand, can grow at leaps and bounds, because value in betting mediums attracts hard dollars, quickly and in pretty big numbers. Right now it has no ceiling.

Kentucky Downs has used their niche to their advantage. Although some years the product might stall due to extraneous factors, the betting menu, the hard-to-handicap races, the deep fields, and the potential for large payoffs attracts people who want to gamble. Some of these gamblers are out there, and have been out there for some time, but they've been sitting on their hands. Places like Kentucky Downs are serving up a menu that is making them open their wallets.

For a free OptixEQ analysis of the racing today at Kentucky Downs, please visit here. 

For a free copy of the Horseplayer Monthly, which features Kentucky Downs in this new issue, it's available right here. 

Enjoy your Thursday folks.

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