With Lowered Takeout, Tioga Handle Up

Published: September 15, 2010 10:44 am EDT

Tioga Downs wrapped up its 2010 racing season on Saturday, September 11 in front of a packed house of fans

and horsemen.

Tioga made headlines earlier in the year when takeout rates were lowered to state minimums for the 2010 race meet, and as the final numbers came in, the results were promising. In a time when growth in business is hard to come by, Tioga Downs was up in live handle 4.1% over 2009, and was also up in export by 8.7% over the previous year.

“To be up in handle in both categories during this time in the economy and show over an eight per cent jump in export is really promising. We have to thank HANA (Horseplayers Association of North America) for their support during our takeout rate initiative this year, and everyone who supported it by betting on the Tioga product,” said Jason M. Settlemoir, Tioga Downs VP of Racing and Simulcast.

Tioga Downs also saw a total of 13 track records take new occupants during 2010, which also featured two World Records on one day. Manningly and driver Jeff Gregory set a World Record for a four-year-old trotting horse on a five-eighths-mile track in 1:52.3. Only two races later, Temple Of Doom and pilot David Miller reset another World Record, this one for three-year old trotting colts on a five-eighths-mile track in 1:52.4. The two overall track records got taken down this year; Manningly’s 1:52.3 World Record established a new overall track record on the trot, while Shark Gesture’s win in the inaugural Bettors Delight Open Pace in 1:48.3 destroyed the previous all age track record on the pacing side of things.

As always, the 2010 Drivers’ Championship was the highlight of the 2010 race season. The fourth edition of the event was captured by Hall of Famer Ron Pierce. It was the fourth straight year that Pierce had participated in the event, and after last year’s loss in the final race to finish second, Pierce captured victory and the $25,000 first prize in 2010.

New to the 2010 race season was a year-long handicapping contest which was updated on the Tioga Downs website each week. The contest, dubbed the 'Pens vs. Microchip,' saw a handicapping software system -- 'Chatsworth Consortium,' designed by Trackmaster -- face off against a few human handicappers and the morning line. When the contest came to a close, the Chatsworth Consortium, which was offered for free all year long at Tioga, came out on top with an astonishing 16% ROI. 'Bobby Z,' with 4% ROI, finished second. 'Mel,' with a -5% ROI, finished third. 'Ray’s Robot,' with a -9% ROI, finished fourth.

As in past years, Tioga Downs once again pushed promotions and giveaways to fuel attendance during the 58-day race meet. Opening day was held on Kentucky Derby Day to create a full day event for the Southern Tier fans, while closing night was in co-ordination with the 2010 Horseplay Car Giveaway and $20,000 Mystery Voucher Giveaway.

“We push towards on track attendance and handle here at Tioga and try to drive our customers on track with promotions every day, and giveaways a few times a month. Customers want to feel like they are ahead when they walk in the door, and when they can get into drawings and promotions everyday to win prizes it keeps them coming back and looking forward to their next visit,” Settlemoir said.


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Congratulations to tioga downs for increasing the track handle in a time where the industry as a whole is in a complete mess. I tip my hat to Jeff Gural and Jason Settlemoir who are the only two people that i know of that manages a race track who understands the devastating affect that excessive track take out is having on the race game. The race game has many problems such as short uncompetitive fields but track take out is the number one issue that is killing the sport.

These two have lowered the take out all they can by law but have clearly stated that they would reduce the take out to 8 or 9% if they could, imagine what that would do for there wager. When will other tracks in north america recognize that you cannot take the public to the cleaners every time they attend the races. That the race game needs to get competitive with other forms of gambling such as poker and sports if they are going to retain there customer base and attract a new generation of gamblers.

Every race track in north america should be taking the steps necessary to start the process of getting the laws changed so the take out can be reduced to a maximum of 10% in all pools. If the race tracks continues to fail to recognize that they have to be competitive with other forms of gambling then they are doomed to fail. Can you imagine another box store opening up next to walmart, selling the exact same products but there mark up is 2 to 3 times higher then walmart how long do you think they would be in business, but yet some how the folks who manage race tracks think that they can be totally uncompetitive with other forms of gambling and survive, i just don't get it.

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