Before we get into handicapping this weekend's races, I'd like to get your opinion on something. Do you care about takeout?
Just to review, in the parimutuel betting system, the racetrack takes a flat amount off of every dollar bet. That "takeout" money primarily goes to the racetrack and to fund purses. It is the house fee, the cost of making a bet.
The issue is timely because PARX (formerly known as Philadelphia Park), which hosts the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) this weekend, has one of the highest takeout rates in the country. The Horseplayers Association of North America ranks Parx 64th best out of 68 tracks in terms of takeout.
You can view the list here http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/hanatrackratingsbysupertakeout2012.html .
The takeout for each wager is different. At PARX the takeout on trifecta wagers is an exorbitant 30%. That is the second highest takeout of any wager at any track in North America. Only Penn National charges a higher takeout at 31%, also on its trifectas. PARX and Penn National also charge 30% takeout in their superfecta pools, again the highest in North America.
For comparison, Churchill Downs and Keeneland charge the lowest takeout in the tri and super pools at 19%. A winning $1 trifecta that pays $81 at the Kentucky tracks will pay only $70 at PARX. A $1 super that pays $810 in Kentucky will pay $700 at PARX. That's a gigantic house fee, especially as the payouts get bigger.
Takeout, as may people will tell you (especially mathmeticians) is the reason it is so hard to win long-term betting on horses. It is also a contributing reason many people prefer to bet on sports (10% takeout) or other casino games with an even lower house edge.
Trifectas are one of my primary bets, and because of their high takeout, I won't be playing that bet on the Pennsylvani Derby. In fact I won't bet the race at all.
I am curious if casual horseplayers a)know the takeout rates at the tracks they play and b)care enough about it to influence their action.