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Blunt Talk From Settlemoir


Published: August 30, 2010 4:55 pm ET

Last Comment: August 31, 2010 2:02 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

"It's nice to work for a guy like Jeff (Jeff Gural) who still wants to promote harness racing. It's nice because in most of these places they have just given up and won't promote it any more. You see 100 to 200 people in the stands at a lot of these tracks and for someone like me, who is only 33 and wants to spend the rest of life in a business he loves, that's scary."

Tioga Downs Vice President Jason Settlemoir didn't pull any punches in his recent discussion with award-winning racing writer Bill Finley. In an interview with Finley for, Settlemoir gave the above quote and offered much more.

Along with handicapping personalities Dave Johnson and Bob 'Hollywood' Heyden, Finley was at Tioga yesterday as part of the track's Zweig Memorial Trot card of racing which produced a pair of World Records.

Tioga was the target of much praise from loyal horse racing handicappers earlier this year when it announced that, in a proactive move aimed directly at the customer, it was voluntarily lowering its takeout as much as it legally could.

Now, Settlemoir has said that if he and Gural had their way, that track takeout would be even less.

"Jeff and I would like to see the takeout lowered to nine or 10 per cent," he was quoted as saying in the article. "That way it would be equal to what the take is on the slots. We want to put the horseplayer on an equal level with the people who play the slots."

In terms of the motivation and 'never-say-die' attitude of the Tioga crew, Settlemoir's passion and fire for the steep task at hand is readily apparent.

"A particular horse racing executive said that racing is in a death spiral and that the only people who come to the racetrack anymore are old people and their parents," Settlemoir said. "I hear that, and to be honest with you, it only energizes me more. We have been able to show people that we can still get people to come to the racetrack."

(With files from

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August 31, 2010 - 2:02 pmThe group at Tioga are the

Kevin Jones SAID...

The group at Tioga are the best bar none. They are on a very short list of track managements who really care if harness racing survives. They listen to the customer & are willing to try anything to grow their business. Other tacks with slots treat it as a necessary evil & go through the motions. I have not been to Tigoa "yet", but I do wager on their product fairly regular because of the lower take-out & recommend them to anyone I talk racing about. The industry is way over regulated in regards of not allowing tracks set their own take-outs. How can they continue to compete against other forms of gambling/entertainment $ when they are "forced" to have such a high % take-out? Churn is one huge way to help get the game off the welfare system. Lots of other things needs tweeking too to get new players involved, but having a competitive take-out is the 1st stumbling block.

August 31, 2010 - 9:13 amIt is refreshing to see that

John Carter SAID...

It is refreshing to see that at least a few people in the industry understand the devastating effect that excessive track takeout is having on the race game. Jeff Gural and Jason Settlemoir are on a very short list of track management teams who actually get it. When will others in the industry catch on and in a unified voice across north america do all that they can to start competing with other forms of gambling by taking the steps to lower track takeout to a maximum of 10% in all pools.

I was a very large player for years but have not played a race for approx 15 months and won't ever play again until the take out is reduced to a maximum of 10% in all pools. I for one don't feel the least bit sorry for the tracks that close when they refuse to do anything to help themselves. At times i could just scream at the top of my lungs, how backward are the people who run these tracks who think that they can retain gamblers and attract new ones when they are taking them to the cleaners every time they go to the windows, but on the other hand perhaps they do know but just don't care.

August 30, 2010 - 7:37 pmYes without reducing the

Yes without reducing the takeout to 9% or less you will only be "promoting" Harness racing to the trainers, owners, and drivers.

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