Some good action last night in racing.
Badlands Nitro won the Rooney in a rather slow 152.4. Could have been the track I guess. Santanna Blue Chip, who just keeps showing up every week and racing well, nabs second with Jody J. That horse looks so sound he could do that all year. In the filly Lismore pace, Thong, a Jerry Silva buy, gets him back some dough with a win. She grinded in a pedestrian half and sprinted home.
The Meadowlands is the fastest track in harness history. Forget the Red Mile, or Springfield. Sub-150's are the order of the day there this year. Mr. Big won in 148.1 and Sam McKee after the victory said the time as if it was a regular occurrence. Frankly this year it is. Mr. Big looks like a solid favourite next week in the Haughton Final. If the Beach catches a track like this and is sharp, he can go 147. No doubt in my mind.
I watched a couple of Georgian Downs races last night. Track manager Chris Roberts is doing double duty as a commentator, as well. He and the track announcer chat between races and have themselves a nice little simulcast show going. Good idea.
Out west in Alberta (for you American's that is one of our most beautiful and rich provinces) harness racing looks soon to be off the map. At the Standardbred wagering conference in the spring many people spoke of the simple fact that if thoroughbred racing attracts more interest, and more handles, that harness would be a casualty. It has happened elsewhere, and last year several tracks were speaking that harness should be charged more cash to simulcast. This is all the more reason for us to do something different. Have a bunch of takeout sales, or a new platform, or get together and aggressively create a central organization and sink cash into betting software, or free data, or schedule our racing correctly, or whatever. Anything at all. I think this is the shape of things to come. We have to have an answer.
Hong Kong gets it. They asked for their industry to be taxed on gross profits, not in any wagering pool. Why is that? Because when shackles are taken off the wagering pool they can offer lower takeouts via rebates to customers and raise handles (they offer 10% rebates on losses). As we wrote in our "give the tax back" post, we spoke about the same thing - we got a 7% tax back in 1996, but kept it for ourselves, and did not give it to the customer. Nader at the HKJC knows what he is doing. Handle was up 5.75% by being responsive to the forgotten people that most matter - their customers.
".....Highs of a 5.75 per cent growth in racing turnover to HK$67.7 billion in the season just completed.......The decision by the government to agree to our proposals [to change the way racing is taxed, from turnover to profit-based] has enabled us to introduce the betting rebates, which have offset the activity of illegal operators," Nader said.
Last but not least, you have to admire Kelly and the folks at Grand River Raceway. With racing having two customers - price sensitive gamblers, and people looking for entertainment - we need two kinds of marketing. Grand River does great with the entertainment portion. They promoted a powder puff night asking people to bring their girlfriends for a night out a Grand River. Psychics and fun stuff like that (i.e. things that me as a stone cold handicapper don't like :)) for a new demographic. It's worth trying, and try they do.
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