WEG's Martin On Takeout, Trakus
Published: April 16, 2013 9:10 am ET
Last Comment: April 19, 2013 5:08 pm ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
After the announcement last week that Woodbine Entertainment Group would be lowering its win takeout on thoroughbred racing, WEG's Executive Vice-President of Racing Jamie Martin expanded on whether or not the track's harness racing product would get a similar reduction.
WEG's standardbred side will not see a win takeout reduction, but instead received a boost earlier this month when it was announced that the early Pick-4 wager would carry a guaranteed pool of $75,000 starting April 11.
"We've taken a different approach on standardbred. We raised our guarantees starting [this past] Thursday night to $75,000," Martin told Trot Insider. "It has to do with the takeouts at other tracks. Thoroughbred is more competitive than standardbred with takeout, that's not a secret."
Martin and WEG are looking at new initiatives to grow wagering, and looking at the customers for each product differently.
"On standardbred we thought the best approach, because the Pick-4 has been pretty successful for us, [guaranteeing the Pick-4] was the best approach to continue to grow our pools generally and interest in our product."
Effective Saturday, April 20, the launch of its 133-date 2013 live thoroughbred racing season, Woodbine will offer a Win takeout of 14.95 per cent, the lowest in North America. Martin noted that win takeout on Woodbine standardbred is 16.90 percent, lower than its closest comparative track - Meadowlands Racetrack - whose takeout is 17 per cent.
"When you look at it that way, are we competitve? That's part of where we are," said Martin. "On the thoroughbred side there are tracks that are 15."
Martin is fully aware that takeout is a sensitive issue to many customers for both WEG's thoroughbred and harness racing products.
"We have different approaches to takeout between the two breeds, mainly because of the competitive environment," noting that the takeout on triactor wagering between thoroughbred and standardbred also differs by two percentage points. "We've also been more aggressive in our Pick-4 guarantees on the standardbreds than the thoroughbreds. Thoroughbreds are higher because the pools are bigger, but we aren't taking any risk."
Those days when the pool doesn't hit the guarantee, Martin notes that by topping up the pool it's like takeout reduction for the customer.
Standardbred customers and fans may have noticed changes to the Woodbine television product and the charts, As of April 1, WEG stopped using the Trakus service for its standardbred product.
"I made that decision. First of all, I'll say Trakus is expensive. That part doesn't surprise anybody," said Martin."I'm a big fan of Trackus, I was here when it came in, I worked with them on improving the charting information and ultimately including some of that information into our standardbred charts. I think the data is really good, I'm less convinced of the television graphics application...some people like it, some people don't like it."
Noting that no other standardbred tracks in North America are using Trakus, Martin stated that the financial realities facing the track operator played a major factor in the decision.
"Much like on the takeout issue, for the major thoroughbred tracks it's become a standard. We have a lot of standardbred dates, it's a big cost operationally and we're looking at cost."
Martin went on to say that if the slots-at-racetracks partnership was still in effect, Trakus wouldn't be cut and hasn't ruled out re-introducing it in the future.
"We're still timing the eighth because we're a seven-eighths mile track but I don't think we're going to chart the eighth."
As a result, the 1/8 mile chart position and the distance travelled will no longer appear in the standardbred charts.