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Eaves On Takeout, Race Date Supply

Published: May 18, 2010 10:58 am ET

Last Comment: May 19, 2010 5:26 am ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

"I think, in the short term, there needs to be less racing. Whether or not that's going to be the eventuality, I think time will tell. In Woodbine's case, we'd much rather be racing...We'd love to be able to go five-days-a-week, 52 weeks a year. However, there needs to be a horse supply to support it and there needs to be customer demand in order to continue to justify it. It's not there today, so we need to respond to what the demand indicators are today, and we need to work towards building back to a level of racing that frankly we would much rather be in."

On today's episode of Trot Radio, Woodbine Entertainment Group's President Nick Eaves talks to Norm Borg about the touchy subject of takeout as well as the issue of race date supply versus demand. Eaves strongly feels that that the amount of product for customers isn't where it should be.

"I think standardbred racing will be around in five years, certainly in this market, but not necessarily if we keep doing it the same old way. I understand that people would be concerned at the notion of having fewer opportunities to race their horse, but if we just keep focusing on it from the standpoint of 'we have to provide the opportunities for a participant to race their horse' and not think for a minute about what it is customers are showing they're prepared to support, then we're going to keep going down that road of a supply-dominated proposition which isn't being rewarded by customers on which less and less is being bet. At some point, there's nothing left.

"So, we're not prepared to come to that. We need to structure a solution which has a significant amount of racing, because there's support for that in the Woodbine-Mohawk market anyway, but one that starts with a bit more of a connection to what it is customers are prepared to support and allows us to build, hopefully, more and more racing opportunities but we need to start with the current levels of demand."

Eaves and Borg also discuss the upcoming changes to Bet Night Live as well as the recent experiment on changing Woodbine's track configuration for harness racing. The full interview is available below.

Episode 119 - WEG President Nick Eaves
Running Time: 13:25
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

May 19, 2010 - 5:26 amThey did a experiment last

They did a experiment last year on the the start finish line and did nothing about it this year so far.They have now decided that maybe their calculations were off last year(at least 200 feet),so this year they will try a "two" race experiment!!!

The argument isn't race dates versus demand,it's race dates versus quality and fan perception.

If WEG wants to become the premiere track of North American that they bill themselves as now and compete with the inevitable sports betting,they will have to reduce race dates to EIGHT months of the year(march-oct|).The owners can still run their horses year round,just not for the big money at wood/moh.They will have eight months to make the BIG money or they can run their horses at the "b"tracks the rest of the year for a LOT LESS money.The wood/moh purse total will remain the same,just condensed into less races.No more picking their spots or waiting till next week,they will be forced to race hard.Race reduction=race quality.

I know this sounds extreme but this should have been done 10 years ago.

It's just a matter of time before one-team sports betting is made legal in Canada and there is no way that harness racing in it's present format will be able to compete.Harness racing might survive another five years,but if they introduce sports betting in Ontario next year,harness racing won't last 2 years.

May 18, 2010 - 8:43 pmLets ask Nick Eaves the one

Lets ask Nick Eaves the one most important question that seems to be missed in every question period that Norm Borg seems to convene. If the Ontario Government legislated you that your slot machines would be shut down on any day that you don't race live standardbred horses would you run a 10 race card every night or would you stay dark and race 4 nights a week because your handle does not justify all of those darn races. Woodbine and the thoroughbred industry clump the standardbred industry into their discussions when the discussion turns to the economic benefits such as employment, broodmares, rural impact of horse racing as an industry in Ontario but use the handle and betting interest as the statistical evidence to suggest the importance of thoroughbred racing in Ontario.
I would ask Standardbred Canada to publish one article that is owed to this industry and that is a release of the number of total people employed, foals born ,and broodmares registered in Ontario in 2009 for both standardbreds and thoroughbreds. Then ask Nick would his proposal regarding less live standardbred race dates effect the following criteria positively or negatively.
Why does an organisation like Standardbred Canada allow this this discussion to continue to be framed by individuals or organizations that obviously don't see or care about the overall impact of standardbred bred racing in Ontario. I hope that one day the standardbred horsepeople of Ontario will get meaningful representation to present the facts!

May 18, 2010 - 2:56 pmNick Eaves has it right on

John Carter SAID...

Nick Eaves has it right on the need to increase field sizes, large competitive fields is one thing the industry needs to address. However when it comes to track takeout he has it all wrong. If he thinks reducing the takeout by 2 to 4% is going to bring the big players back and stop the declining wager he is completely out of touch, it will make little to no difference.

I was a large player for over 25 years but have not bet a race in over a year and never to bet another race ever, unless they get competitive with other forms of gambling. I will come back as a customer the day the takeout is reduced to a maximum of 10% in all pools. If that means never betting another race i can live with that.

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