Canterbury Park - the small Minnesota track that lowered takeout last year, only to raise it this season - concluded their meet recently. The numbers, year over year, are in: Thoroughbred handle was up 2.6%, and handle per betting interest was down 1.8%.
Last year, with the takeout decrease, handle was up 5%, and handle per betting interest was up 10%.
Racetrack handle analysis (which tends to be pretty rudimentary) will conclude what it wants to conclude regarding the above. And, quite honestly, since reported racetrack handle numbers are where lines of best fit go to die (and people use cognitive bias to analyze these numbers), I completely understand that. But, we'll try and take a deeper dive.
Using some comparative analysis, regional tracks had a very good year. This season, Prairie Meadows was up 21.2% and Arlington up 11.3% per entry. Last year the weather in the midwest made it hard to race on the turf at two of the three regionals, and barns were nowhere near as plentiful. In 2016, these tracks were down 16% and 10% respectively.
So, last year, Canterbury's handle - up 10% - outperformed their regional friends.
This season - again comparatively - Canterbury Park did not rebound like their regional counterparts did, and vastly underperformed.
We can probably conclude with some certitude that a majority of the "new" money that entered the Canterbury pools in 2016 did not return. Anecdotally (which is never a good thing I suppose), I do know personally of about $400,000 in meet handle that this year was zero dollars.
When we factor in signal fees and SMF's the landscape gets even muddier. I don't think we can go a lot further.
What did we learn? Not much that we didn't already know, I guess. The marketing buzz of a takeout decrease, along with the churn gained from a takeout decrease, helped handles, at least some in 2016. And hurt it some in 2017.
Revenue was certainly up year over year - probably apples to apples several hundred thousand dollars - which I am certain is important to a public company being yelled at by a BOD. There's that.
But, for a racetrack who gets $6M earmarked for marketing from an $81M war chest of gaming money that's mandated to be spent to "grow handle", isn't using a few hundred thousand dollars a year to do exactly that fulfilling the mandate?
One conclusion that's easy to make, in my view, is that horse racing makes decisions on where they are, not where they want to be.
Canterbury appeared to have momentum on their side in 2016, and for whatever
reason, despite a perfect weather season with good field size, the
momentum stalled. That, I think, isn't good for anyone who cares about the long term health of the game.
Have a nice Monday everyone.
Most Trafficked, Last 12 Months
This was originally printed in Trot Magazine's Horseplayer Issue. The pick 5 is a racing staple with almost every track trying to take...
I received a hot text on my Blackberry from Cub Reporter late last night. Cub said, "The racing braintrust was reading twitter last ni...
Our wagering game is an incredible mental exercise for many reasons. And one of its characteristics I like best is the variety of thought wh...
Everyone saw "the ride" , everyone commented on "the ride", everyone waited to see what was up with "the ride"...
I've been thinking about wagering, handicapping and gambling content this week. The topic has been front and center with Nico's grea...
So, I did a little reading on the railway rebate system. No, stop laughing, I really did. And it was a pretty interesting exercise. For tho...
I continue to be fascinated with both the press and general football fan reaction to the Bill Belichick 4th down decision in Sunday's ga...
If you're north of the 49th, you're suddenly hearing quite a bit about Canadian productivity; meaning, over the last half decade or ...
Sinking marketing money directly into the horseplayer by seeding pools is effective, in both theory and practice In Ontario and elsewher...