Saturday Round Up - Trixton, Kentucky Downs and a Little More

Good morning racing friends.

A lot happened yesterday.

In harness, Father Patrick won the Canadian Trotting Classic, with Trixton appearing to be injured, or at least sore.( has a really good synopsis of all the festivities. ) That made the CTC one of the more anticipated races of the year, to just another race. The trotting field, outside Takter's big three, is not very deep. They just can't go with them.

Trixton is a wonderful horse, and we can only hope he's fine. Whatever may happen, he sure does have a stud career ahead of him. The owners, and him, will be clearly okay.

The sad part about matchups in horse racing is that we rarely get to see them. I am not convinced that Father Patrick is the better horse, and I know some of you aren't either. He's handier, flashier, and he makes his own race - if you bet Trixton against him on a half mile track demand odds - but I really don't know. Trixton has never had a two hole trip against him so we could see who fires home quickest.

Handle last evening at Mohawk was over $2.3 million, which rarely happened four years ago. Woodbine Entertainment Group is a long way from being bettor friendly (those rakes, and taking more takeout out of simulcast like they do is anything but), however they have come a long, long way. They've turned into a betting company by offering signals, asking for handle, and putting some thought into what they're doing. For years I documented what I thought they were doing wrong on this blog, and right now that list has grown shorter and shorter. The days of $800,000 of harness handle on a Thursday and a $1.3 million Saturday being considered "good" are long gone.

For a track that executives might want to look at as bettor friendly, take a look at Kentucky Downs. They had a record handle of over $4.2 million yesterday, and as noted on the HANA blog,  not long ago they did only $4 million for their entire five day meet.

Churchill Downs yesterday did $3.1 million. Los Al Thoroughbreds $3.9 million. Both those tracks raised rakes and made bettors feel like a necessary evil the past couple of years. Kentucky Downs, who could have as high a rake as Churchill (by Kentucky law), chose not to. They offer the lowest blended takeout nationwide, and had the largest takeout decrease this sport has ever seen in 2012.

They also used their instant racing money smartly, again with the bettor in mind. Creating races with full fields is most important. Four horse stakes races are not allowed.

Rome was not built in a day and neither is a racetrack. But those who actually do their best to cater to customers, end up getting them. Those who shoo them away end up doing exactly that. Sam Walton would say that being customer friendly is not rocket science, and it isn't.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.

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