One Company, Two Approaches: Cater to the horseplayer or the horseman???

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Richard Eng of Las Vegas Review-Journal…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

While Gulfstream caters to bettors, Santa Anita targets racers

This is a tale of two racetracks, Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park, which are operated by the same owner, Magna Entertainment Corp. and Frank Stronach.

At the same time that Santa Anita has raised its takeout on multihorse and multirace wagers, its sister track, Gulfstream, has lowered bet minimums and takeout, making the product more user-friendly.

Sounds like a case of Stronach’s left and right hands not knowing what the other is doing.

Santa Anita raised the takeout by 9.6 percent (to 22.68 from 20.68) on exactas and daily doubles and by 14.5 percent (to 23.68 from 20.68) for all other exotic bets. A predictable result has been a drop in handle of nearly 20 percent.

Meanwhile, Gulfstream has been creative in offering a 10-cent pick 6, a 50-cent pick 4 and pick 5 and $1 minimums on all other wagers.

The takeout in the pick 5 is a low 15 percent, making it one of the best bets in horse racing. It mirrors the Monmouth Park pick 5 in that regard plus has a similar carry-over provision if no one correctly selects all five winners.

I think a low-priced, low-takeout pick 5 is a good way to market to everyday horseplayers for this simple reason:

Suppose I take the time to handicap the five races in the pick 5. Not only will I play a pick 5, but I will bet many of those races individually, increasing my overall handle. That’s good business.

The takeout in the Gulfstream pick 6 is only 20 percent. But the most intriguing part is the entire pool will be paid out only if there is one unique winning ticket. When there is more than one winning ticket, 60 percent of the pool will be paid out and 40 percent will go to the carry-over pool.

The idea is to create a large carry-over pool that will spark more interest, and I think that will work, too.

Santa Anita offers a better price (15.43) in win, place and show wagers than Gulfstream (17.0), and in the trifecta and superfecta, which are a ridiculously high 26 percent at Gulfstream.

However, it seems like the philosophy of the two tracks is different. Gulfstream apparently listens to its fans in making the betting product more attractive. Santa Anita is trying to appease the owners and trainers who race there at a much higher cost to its players.

We horseplayers might be dumb, but we’re not stupid. I think, as a group, we are more discriminating than track managers are giving us credit for.


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