30% takeout and the PA Derby

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.


Leave a Comment:

Dr Drunkinbum

That takeout link is great. Thanks. I too often don't pay attention to the takeouts unless I read about one being really high, but I'll be paying closer attention now. As far as the weekend races go I think the Gallant Bloom, 9th race at BP on Saturday is definitely the top race. I was already planning on playing the upcoming Keeneland and CD meets but those takeouts insure that I will be focusing on those tracks and Oaklawn when it comes around. I'm not betting Parx this weekend either.

19 Sep 2012 10:58 PM
Pete Denk

Yeah HANA has done a wonderful service for horseplayers with that chart. The sortable columns are great.

Note what a great bet the 50-cent Pick5 is at many tracks. I play it at AP (15% takeout) and HAW (14%) whenever I like the sequence.

The Win/Place/Show takeout at PARX is 17%, which is reasonable, so if u really like a horse in the win pool, they are ok there.

19 Sep 2012 11:24 PM

Hmm... I never really thought about the takeout affecting the payouts but now I do.  I don't think it would change much on what track I bet.   I wonder what the takeouts are for overseas tracks.  Australia tracks pay huge even with the .20 superfectas but then again, the field is so big that a 6-1 is like a 20-1 and a lot of longshots win there.

I play a lot of the overseas track that Calder offers as well as the Hippodromo track offered by Laurel.  So does this mean that any US track can set the percentage takeout at any number they want ?

Sad news about Spurious Precision...

20 Sep 2012 12:42 AM

I could not care less about the takeout. I bet on horses if I think I can place a winning bet, regardless of the amount I would win.

I rarely play exotic wagers. I play win/place/show, a few exactas and an occasional trifecta, though I once won a Pick 6 betting $4 total.  

For me the issue is not the takeout but finding a winning bet. The takeout does not matter if you place a losing bet.

Regardless of the takeout, the bettor has to ask himself whether he is better off betting or taking his children or grandchildren to the zoo. Gambling is a form of decadence.

My 10-pack DRF past performance, was bought in May. I used it up in August. That's how little I bet.

20 Sep 2012 8:18 AM
lunar spook

I was under the impression it was 19% at every track , thanks for the info , that will defenitely factor into where i play and what type bet i make

20 Sep 2012 9:54 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

30 percent just doesn't sound good. If they were smart they'd do 29.95.

20 Sep 2012 10:39 AM

Thanks Pete for this very useful information.

Personally, I sometimes consider the takeout % when determining what tracks to play and/or types of wagers to make, especially when takeout is particularly low or exuberantly high.  However, if I see a wager that looks like a winnner, I will typically play it regardless of takeout. I would rather win some money than none at all.

However, 30% takeout is exuberant and I would have to think my trifecta is a lock to play one at Parx, Penn National, or any other track with takeout over 25%.

Playing for less than $0.75 of each $1 wagered is certainly a significant mathematical obstacle to overcome!

20 Sep 2012 11:49 AM


How about Stephanoatsee in the PA Derby?  Got to love that pedigree.  Stephanoatsee is going to be my pick to fill the void that has been left by all the retired 3-year-olds.  If Stephanoatsee does not have any serious lingering effects of the pastern injury for which he was sidelined, he has tons of upside.

20 Sep 2012 12:12 PM
lunar spook

i kinda like csaba

20 Sep 2012 12:17 PM

Does it matter? I think it matters MORE to the novice bettor. As a professional, I just realized that I primarily bet on tracks # 24-26-39-50-57-58-59-65-68, which is an average of 50.67. So, i am wagering on the worst tracks (just about). The difference being that if i see a 3-1 that should be 8/5 or a 7-1 that should be 3-1, the takeout, although hurting me, is npt keeping me from making a living.

20 Sep 2012 2:19 PM

Let me get this right, Pete. If you handicap the Pa Derby and like a horse at 8-1 with another at 12-1, you wouldn't play a trifecta? You would make a lesser bet on a win/place or Exacta than make more money? Time to re-think your math. I would rather lose 30% on a BIG payout than 18% on a SMALL payout, if those were my two choices. You have to understand that tyhe great masses of people reading this article have no idea, no problem and no ability to factor the take into their wagers. They jst "bet another track" in stead of the one with the higher take out. THAT is no more logical than sticking with the other track and betting longshots only to make up the difference.

20 Sep 2012 2:23 PM
Pete Denk

Big Bux-

I like Stephanoatsee but he's a bit one-paced. I think he'll better at 10f if they can find a spot for him. From the rail post in here, I think he can get a piece but will need them to come to him for the win. I f he can catch up in time, I think he's gutsy.

As I said on THS, Oatsee puts extra fight into her progeny, and stretches out every sire she's been bred to.

She got a Forestry to win 1 3/16 (Shackleford-Preakness) and an Orientate to win 1 1/4 miles (Lady Joanne-Alabama).

What an awesome mare.

20 Sep 2012 2:39 PM

If horse racing could survive on ticket sales, television rights, etc. and somehow eliminate or vastly reduce takeout, it would be by far the most attractive form of gambling out there.  I know I am living in a fantasy world.

20 Sep 2012 2:45 PM
Pete Denk


If I LOVED an 8-1 shot, with a 12-1 my clear second choice in the PA Derby...

I would bet the 8-1 to win, play the 8-12 exacta strong, backup the 12-8 exacta lighter, and use both in the pick 4. I also would be tempted to play the tri 8-1 / many / 12-1, swallowing my pride only to cover a big overlaid scenario.

I actually nailed the tri in this race pretty good last year with To Honor and Serve(and it came back light!). I didn't know the takeout then.

These tracks with ridiculously high takeout are counting on customer ignorance/ambivalence.

There is no justification for a 30% take, other than greed.

Gotta send them a message. It's not like PARX's wagering product even compares to NY/KY/CA. Ridiculous pricing.

20 Sep 2012 2:56 PM
lunar spook

BIG BUX BILL- Ive often wondered myself if more tv exposure would get more folks interested , NBC AND ESPN show races on occasion , i wonder how the ratings are ? many folks dont get the horsse racing channels and cant get exposed to it , i love college football and golf , but NOTHING compares to horse racing ! i just want to see the sport grow and always be around !

20 Sep 2012 3:00 PM
Pete Denk

Exchange wagering is American racing's chance to get the takeout down to 10% or less.

20 Sep 2012 3:01 PM

I see that you know what you are talking about. That would be the only other alternative I could see, but I do not play the tri at any track; rather zero in on the supers and win bets, with a sometimes an ex. play. I generally play the 1-2 and 1-3 positions to maximize payoffs. Most of my money made on supers is with the 1-3 position. As a rule, I rarely play trifectas in Prx. But if I did have something I felt strongly about with good odds, i would play it strong and forget the take.

Speaking of the 1-3 position, I did catch a nice super in the closing days of Saratoga when a Lemon Drop Kid horse #3, went off at a late 4-1 (dropped 2 points the last flash....ARGH)and the firster, #9 led every step of the way to hold off my #8 for third. A very nice $7000 super. Earlier in my career, i would only go 3-8 and never dream of going 3-A-8, so I understand your tri theory.

20 Sep 2012 4:05 PM

LUNAR SPOOK - Without a doubt, TV is important, but I believe fan education is the most important.  Horse racing is an extremely complex sport and I believe most people do not want to put much thought into watching sports.  For the most part, people want to be mindlessly entertained while watching sports.

My experience is that people become fans of horse racing by picking winners and ca$hing tickets.  I appreciate the horse as an animal very much and feel that horses are a gift to mankind, as horses have given more to man in so many different places throughout history than any other animal.  However, most people don’t appreciate the horse like many of us do, and the only way to get these people back to the races is for them experience the excitement of being right about their race analysis and cashing in on that.  Maybe I need to get out more, but getting paid for a correct opinion is certainly one of the more exciting things I experience on a weekly basis.

It seems that many people are intimidated to wager because there is so much information out there that they do not understand.  Educating these people and getting them over that hurdle of intimidation is so important.  It seems the majority of racing fans I meet became fans because somebody who knew what was going on took them to the track, explained what was going on and answered any questions, and then let that person make their own opinions (and wagers).  Once that person experiences the thrill of being right and cashes in, they want to come back for more.

20 Sep 2012 4:27 PM

I have found Csaba to be an interesting horse, as they have tried turf several times (I don't blame the connections since the colt is by Kitten's Joy), but he seems to prefer dirt.

Csaba will likely be the speed, but I foresee several horses battling for position just off his heels.  Thus, setting it up for stretch running Stephanoatsee.

I think Stephanoatsee should only be faster at 3 and I believe he has likely improved off his 2-year-old figures and he is as fast as these horses going 9F+.

Stephanoatsee showed ability at 2 by closing on Alpha in the Remsen.  I also like the fact that Stephanoatsee closed over a off track in his prep race and was given a work at Parx this week.

I am a firm believer that sometimes you have to look beyond the form/figures and think about the horse as an animal, and how they can improve with age and other significant changes.  I also believe this is the way to get a big price.  Anyone can pick up a form and look to see who has been running what times and winning what races, but those horses always are typically overbet and favorites only win about 1/3 of the time. Stephanoatsee will be overlooked and is the price play.

DISCLAIMER:  I am a huge Oatsee fan, as I have made many winning wagers betting on her progency.  I believe Stephanoatsee has plenty of upside and the pastern injury he suffered last year may end up being a blessing in disguise, as he has been given more time to mature.

20 Sep 2012 4:28 PM


Good point about exchange wagering.  This will certainly be an interesting and exciting development.  Betfair has already been educating and/or teasing the American public on TVG with some tidbits about exchange wagering.  I often wonder how long this will take to get going.  The tracks will need to get their $lice!

20 Sep 2012 4:39 PM
lunar spook

BIG BUX BILL- Very well said , i bet often on the races , but i just enjoy watching it for pure fun , which puts me in the minority i know p.s. watch out for TO HONOR AND SERVE in the breeders cup hes my sleeper horse

20 Sep 2012 4:40 PM
don auld

Takeout is my #1 concern, will watch the Pa races but NEVER wager on any Pa track. Would not play may pools at Cld and do not play into 22.5% Calif pools,  We need to be a little careful with exchange wagering, talk is of 10% already not 5% as in Europe, this may still seem good but do a couple of examples.  Thank you

20 Sep 2012 7:32 PM

Well said,

You work hard for your money,don't throw It away.

The lower takeout will attract more horseplayers to horseracing.

A pick-4 that pays $881.00 at Pennsylvania tracks(26%takeout) pays $1,012.00 at Monmouth(15% takeout).

Be a smart bettor!

20 Sep 2012 8:18 PM
Pete Denk

Don Auld-

My personal position is that the takeout on exchange wagering in the U.S. should be 10% or lower.

I think we need to give more to purses than Europe gives. But 10% should be the max.

20 Sep 2012 9:01 PM
Pete Denk

In the Gallant Bloom H. (G2) at Belmont Park, I think Turbulent Descent is very beatable.

I like the 3yo filly Emma's Encore. The way she's been finishing at 6f, she'll love the move 6.5f.

20 Sep 2012 9:51 PM

I totally agree with Big Bux Bill's post at 4:27.   I love winning huge payouts but it's honestly secondary to the thrill I get when I pick a 20-1 or more longshot to win and get the tri.  I should say I feel bad when I see other folks at the track get quiet when a big longshot wins and I'm the only one banging on the table screaming "hang on <number>! hang on !"  but I don't.  It's one of the best feelings for me to beat the favorite.  

Tonyd's comment about the difference in P4 payout caught my eye lol.  I'll pay attention to that but I can't say it will affect my betting at all if the lineup is something I feel confident about.  I can only hope that these tracks that charges a lot of takeouts also takes care of the people that work at the track...keyword being "hope."

20 Sep 2012 10:11 PM

Hey Lunar Spook, I think it is great you can watch the races for pure fun!!!  I wish more people were out there like you who can appreciate the horse and the beauty of racing for purely what it is.  I just feel that the gambling aspect is what brings the other people into the game that may not appreciate as much as the rest of us do.

21 Sep 2012 9:24 AM

*appreciate the horse as much as the rest of us do.

I can't stand typing in these little boxes!!!

21 Sep 2012 10:07 AM
Rusty Weisner

Win, place, show have the least takeout.  

As an occasional bettor, though.  I can't bring myself to do it, though.  I like to play the Pick 4 and Pick 3, though some tracks make the takeout more onerous than others.

For people who like exotics, it's another argument for why exactas are one of the best bets.

21 Sep 2012 10:45 AM
Rusty Weisner

TV exposure does nothing for horse racing.  It's gambling, not a spectator sport.  You have to somehow get a novice into betting on race somewhere (casinos at horse tracks and nice off-track betting venues for people far from a track make that easier).  Any novice that wins their first time out has a good chance of becoming a regular.

I find it hard to believe handicapping is such a refined taste.  People love to bet on sports, and they enjoy statistics (look at fantasy football).  

21 Sep 2012 10:52 AM


I will also be trying to beat Turbulent Descent in the Gallant Bloom.  I think I will use CC's Pal, since she is proven against older horses, but I do respect and like Emma's Encore too.

On another note, your post was certainly well timed.  I imagine you have already seen on this site that the CHRB approved exchange wagering rules.  Nice to see some progress being made, although there is still much red tape to get through.

21 Sep 2012 11:47 AM
lunar spook

RUSTY WEISNER - I must respectfully disagree about tv exposure , if the average joe sees a big horse race on tv and the payouts , it may entice him to go , if hes not exposed to it hes just not gonna wake up one day and say hey ! ill go the track today !

21 Sep 2012 12:14 PM

Anyone know of a site where I can find schedules of when different tracks across the US start their live racing ?  I can go to the different tracks' website but was wondering if there's one that publishes all the live dates.  Thanks!

21 Sep 2012 12:16 PM

Oh and for the Z fans, check out the gorgeous little z :


21 Sep 2012 12:22 PM


Go to DRF

click on "Handicapping & PP's"

Click on Column for "Racing & Wagering" - 4th from left

Scroll down to "Racing Dates".

21 Sep 2012 1:15 PM


You can find that information right here on Bloodhorse.com. On the left side of the site, under the "Tools" department, click on "Calendars." Once on the calendar page, click on the "Racing Meets" tab. That will take you right to the information you're after.


21 Sep 2012 1:24 PM
Rusty Weisner


The thing is, network tv tiptoes around the gambling aspect of it.

21 Sep 2012 4:23 PM
Rusty Weisner


Equibase is good for everything.  Go to the top right and plug in "horse", "track", "trainer", whatever.  It's amazing how much free data there is -- full charts for any race, for example.

21 Sep 2012 4:25 PM

didn't see anyone mention the #5 Junebugred...I think this runner will put in a big effert, and will use him in exacta key w/ Alpha and Macho Macho...good luck all!

21 Sep 2012 6:51 PM

I appreciate being educated about the takeout. I won't play Parx tomorrow just to send the message. Since I'm a very small bettor, they won't miss my money, but I think horseplayers are going to continue to make noise about takeout and as they say...you've got to be the change you want to see. If I were to play it though, I'd play an Alpha/Csaba exacta box!

21 Sep 2012 10:52 PM

LOL, wow, I feel so.. dumb.  I didn't realize it's available here or DRF.  I always just check for entries but thanks Laz, Keelerman and Rusty.  Appreciate the info!  

22 Sep 2012 2:16 AM

Here is a question to ponder.

Assume that Casual Trick has fully recovered from his breathing illness and that the jockey can make the weight. Can Alpha or Golden Ticket give him 10 lbs.?

22 Sep 2012 7:44 AM

When you compare us to sports betting, you forget the sport being bet on does not get any of that money.  Horse racing lives off the bet.  That is where the horses get the purses.  This is also one of my complaints.  Horse racing needs to get advertising money to help finance it.  

22 Sep 2012 8:11 AM

Belmont Park .50 Late P4 :


07th : 3, 8

08th : 4, 8

09th : 3, 4, 10

10th : 8, ,9, 10, 11, 14

Good luck to all playing the horses with real money today! Hope you hit the big one.

22 Sep 2012 11:30 AM

Pen Derby

1. Golden Ticket…..Except for his first maiden race when he faded back to 6th, Golden Ticket has been really good on pure dirt with the Travers D-H win, an 8.5-F score when he broke his maiden in an off-the-turf race, and three seconds giving him a 6-2-3-0 record on dirt, which also included a close loss to Prospective in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby.  He’ll still be equal weights with Alpha though they’ll be giving from 2 to 10 lbs.

2. Alpha…..I believe that he is the class of this group, but will still go with Golden Ticket for the win because I can see Alpha going out front earlier than in the Travers and Prax is often a good track for closers which I expect Golden Ticket to be doing.

3. Macho Macho is steadily improving and his West Virginia Derby win was his best race yet in a skein of steadily improving performances.  Most encouraging is the fact that Bourbon Courage came off his second place finish in the WVD to win the Super Derby in convincing fashion, enough that his connections are strongly considering running in the BCC.

4. Stephanoatsee…..ran 7th to O’Prado Againin the Remsen, his toughest race, after being wide coming into the stretch.   His next race in the Count Fleet was a good one, but he only gained a length on Alpha in the stretch and was beaten by 2 ½-L at equal weights (so maybe today the 10 lb. difference will have meaning).  My concern though is his seasoning.  True, he won his August start, his first and only since January, but he was a huge favorite that day against only three opponents in an optional claimer, though Quarto, who ran second, was meant to be a good one being by AP Indy out of the multi G1 winner Octave.  IMO his chances will be greatly enhanced by the weight he’ll get from both Alpha and Golden Ticket, a fast pace, and the fact that Prax is often kind to closers.  

22 Sep 2012 1:06 PM


There is no question that Questing is at the top of her game right now coming off back-to-back G1 wins in the 10F Alabama and the 9F CCA, both at Saratoga.  Those races were preceded by a 1-mile allowance win in 1.34 in a one-turn race, excellent considering that she wasn’t pushed and she was drawing way to a 3 ½-L score.  A pro for me in the Alabama is that she drew away to a 9-L score after setting a blistering pace which included 6F in 1.09.74.  A possible con is that each quarter was slower than the last and her final two quarters were in 25.32 and a crawling 26.23.  Her win in the CCA was equally as dominating.  She was better than three lengths off the lead in second place after a 23.21 opening quarter and from that point on she took off, her individual second quarter timed in 23.74.  She dominated the rest of the way, but as is her custom, she slowed noticeably in the final 8th (13.14) which extrapolates to a final quarter of 26.28.  One daunting question.  Can she be rated or does she have to run all out from the beginning because if she can’t be rated, even when leading, then I can see this being her downfall?  Another Alabama pro is her time of 2.01.29 was the fastest since Go For Wand set the race standard of 2.00.80 in 1990 and the third fastest in more than 40 years.  For sure, the manner in which she has thoroughly destroyed her competition in her past three races is a testimony, at least to me, that she is the best three year-old filly in America right now, and it isn’t even close.

However, I’m calling for an upset.  My Miss Aurelia has been nothing but perfect throughout her career and has shown nothing but class.  She is versatile in that she can run up close or set the pace or come from behind.  Her Mandy’s Gold was a sensational race.  She stumbled very badly at the start and was last down the backstretch.  What I liked was that when she started to move around the far turn she ran an individually timed 2nd quarter in 22.91 seconds and continued on with her final 5/16ths in 29.79, this in spite of not really changing her lead properly in that stretch run.  But what I really liked was in watching her up close turning into the stretch.  The will to win was very evident and I don’t believe she’ll be content to finish second.  Another plus, IMO, will be the return of Cory Nakatani.

22 Sep 2012 1:30 PM
Old Timer

Takeout should be important to everyone who places a bet on the horses! I have usually kept to straight bets and an occasional exacta or daily double for exactly that reason. Many tracks have reasonable takeout on those types of wagers, but then there is a big jump in takeout for the Trifectas and Pick 3's, etc. Usually the exactas and doubles % aren't too bad. I now live fairly close to Hoosier Park in the midwest and it is nice that their takeout is low on ALL of the exotics. Therefore I do occasionally take a flyer on a tri or super when I am there.

The 30% at Parx is really insane. I do not blame anyone for looking elsewhere.

Thanks for the link to HANA.

22 Sep 2012 1:41 PM
Criminal Type

I love both My Miss Aurelia and Questing, but I have to give the advantage to Questing in this one. Her wins in the CCA Oaks and the Alabama make her the horse to beat. Pretty confident they will finish 1 2 whoever is in front.

I like Macho Macho in the PA Derby to upset Golden ticket and Alpha.

The Gallent Bloom for me is the toss up, but I do like Emma's Encore very much and she has Rosie today. Hard to bet against Musical Romance and Turbulant decent though, so I would have to use them also.

Trinniburg in the Gallant Bob.

22 Sep 2012 2:35 PM

I am not betting on the PARX racing due to the take out issue but am hoping that Il Villano wins the Gallant Bob - and Alpha wins the PA Derby

22 Sep 2012 4:48 PM

Most racetrackers, if they think of it at all, consider the takeout in the context of its

effect on the pools and overall handle. Very few consider its effect on the odds of the

individual horses.

The posted odds are not the true odds. They are the true odds perverted by the takeout.

The more money that is bet on a horse the more its odds become perverted, hence, the

odds on the favorite are the most perverted, making it appear to be a stronger favorite

than it actually is. Given the mass psychology at work at the track, some will bet the

favorite simply because it is the favorite, adding to the illusion of strength. I used to

take this into account when attempting to separate the false favorite from the true

favorite. It explains why the second choice very often makes for a better betting


A perfect example was the Cotillion. Was Questing that much more superior at 2-5

than Miss Aurelia at 9-5, particularly since she was giving seven pounds?

A simple example of the perversion: assume $100,000 in the win pool of a race, with 50%

bet on the favorite. Its true odds are even money (1-1). A takeout of 18% reduces the

the pool to $82,000. Subtracting $50,000 bet on the favorite leaves $32,000 to cover.

The horse goes off at 3-5.

23 Sep 2012 12:27 AM
Pedigree Ann

Okay, tracks charge very little ($5 or less) to get into the grandstand and most have free parking somewhere. Concessions are standard for the type of facility. The states take their cut of the handle for taxes (also included in the takeout). Simulcasting has decreased the on-track attendance, without a commensurate rise in the funds for operating fees and purses. And the horse-owners contribute only to stakes purses, with starting and entry fees. How do you want tracks to generate purse moneys and operating fees? Purse money doesn't magically appear out of thin air, although slots money seems to. (But as Ontario horseman are discovering, what the state/province government gives, it can take away at the drop of a hat.)

In Britain, where parimutuel betting is a minor component, it costs $15 to get into a good course for an ordinary day, but if you want a chance to sit down in a grandstand to watch, it goes up to $25 or more. The bookies on the pitch rent their space, but none of their handle supports purses. Owners in Britain have to pay to run in the vast majority of races (which is why so many minor events have 'stakes' in their names but aren't black-type); with transport and other costs, an owner can actually lose money with, say, a third-place finish in a minor race. Therefore, ownership is limited to those who can fund racehorses without counting on purse-money to support them. The tracks get a subsidy as a lump sum from the Levy Board, which collects taxes from the bookies, but the industry has complained for years that it is inadequate to properly fund purses. Is this a better way?

If we want to have horse races to bet on, we must agree that some of our betting money will go to support the industry, otherwise the industry will wither and die. Then we will be stuck with state lotteries, where the takeout is something like 50%.

23 Sep 2012 9:34 AM

Pedigree Ann:

You nailed the takeout issue. Could not have said it better, except I would add that the ADW companies, the bet-takers or better the blood-suckers, should be abolished and the tracks should keep all the takeout money by setting up their own ADW service online.

23 Sep 2012 10:29 AM

(My apologies if this comes through more than once -- the site crashed on my initial attempt to submit this.)

So -- what has happened to Optimizer? His victory yesterday afternoon in the Kent Stakes (gr. III) was exceptional. Obviously, he has relished the return to turf, but his new front-running style is astonishing. Who knew he possessed so much natural speed? What a turnaround?

On a side note, Optimizer's victory yesterday makes him the eleventh horse to have run in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and subsequently return to win a graded stakes races. In fact, only two Juvenile contestants -- Crusade and Speightscity -- have failed to accomplish that feat.


23 Sep 2012 11:53 AM

MTH race 1-1

23 Sep 2012 12:46 PM

mth race 1-#1









23 Sep 2012 12:48 PM

BELMONT race 1-#4










23 Sep 2012 12:51 PM

Woodbine race 1 #7

23 Sep 2012 1:06 PM

woodbine race 1-#7










23 Sep 2012 1:09 PM

Turfway race 1-#2

23 Sep 2012 1:10 PM

TURFWAY race 1-#2









23 Sep 2012 1:26 PM

race 3 mth...scr my pick 1...now my pick #4

23 Sep 2012 1:54 PM
Criminal Type

Keelerman, not to many of those Juvi runners are left. The 3 yr old male crop has been descimated by injury and illness. However, the 3 yr old fillies are sure giving us some great racing. What a thrill MMA and Questing gave us yesterday...That was sweet. You had to feel bad for Dixie Strike, who I also really like. Clearly she is not in the same class as the two top finishers.

As for Optimizer, im not surprised. Everyone knew the horses prefered surface was grass. The horse was outside of his element on the TC trail. That was the owner and trainer's ego's at work. He certainly looked good out there yesterday. Se la Vie, I had Lucky Chappy. I got to meet him in person a few weeks ago at Fair Hill along with Animal Kingdom and Union Rag's, Summer Soiree, Lentenor and Margano. I actually saw all the horses in the Motion, Team Valor, Matz and Delecour barns. I had AK  and Lucky Chappy eating peppermints out of my hand. What a humbling and thrilling experiance. And Union Rag's...Say what you will about his pedigree, ability and retirement..He is one absolutely perfect physical specimen.

I was no where near Diamonds and Dust, Hansome Mike or Well Spelled.

I heard earlier on HRTV that My Miss Aurelia and Diamonds and Dust are on a flight to Southern California in the morning. I think others will be with them, not sure who though. Questing will certainly be going to the Ladies Classic and this time, MMA and Q will carry equal weight.

23 Sep 2012 3:52 PM

Criminal Type;

It sounds like you had a lot of fun at Fair Hill! That is one truly unique training facility. I wish there were more like it.

Regarding the plane flight to southern California, Unbridled's Note, Mico Margarita, and Daddy Nose Best are the other horses scheduled to be aboard. I'm pretty thrilled that they are going to get an opportunity to train at Santa Anita prior to the Breeders' Cup.

The Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic is certainly shaping up to be one of the best races of the year. I hope everyone stays sound for another six weeks! I can't begin to imagine who would emerge victorious from a field including Awesome Feather, Include Me Out, My Miss Aurelia, Love and Pride, Questing, Royal Delta, and perhaps even It's Tricky. To be perfectly honest, if that field were to come to fruition, then the Classic itself would be somewhat anti-climatic.


23 Sep 2012 8:16 PM

Keelerman : Where are they planning on running DNB ?  Totally forgot about this horse, not one I like really but it's good to see he's still in training.

I'm a tad worried about Palace Malice, haven't heard any news about this horse.  I figured he will run once or twice before the BC but his last workout was almost a month ago.

I did have Handsome Mike in the PA Derby except I only played him with Alpha, didn't have one ticket with Golden Ticket in it, which cost me the golden payout...

23 Sep 2012 11:13 PM

Pete Denk;

Where can I find the facts on how Exchange Wagering will reduce the Takeout for all wagers to 10% or less?

Considering CA is the only state in the Union eligible to provide Exchange Wagering BUT the Ca Horsemen continue to nix it, in what decade/century do you expect Exchange Wagering to become a reality?

24 Sep 2012 9:01 AM
Karen in Texas

JayJay----Palace Malice is out with bucked shins. Another site quotes the Dogwood people as saying that he will rehab in Aiken, and prepare for a 3y/o campaign in Florida. I don't think the BC is part of his current plan.

24 Sep 2012 11:13 AM


Daddy Nose Best is pointing toward a start in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby on September 30th at Remington Park.

As for Palace Malice, he was being pointed toward a start in the Hopeful Stakes on closing day at Saratoga, but missed the race with bucked shins and is not expected to race again until next year.

Here is an old article on the subject:



24 Sep 2012 11:48 AM
Pete Denk


There aws positive movement on exchange wagering in CA last Friday. Here's a link:


24 Sep 2012 12:00 PM
Pete Denk

This coming weekend is going to be huge, packed with G1 preps for the Breeders' Cup.

We'll do a lot more handicapping on the blog this week. Appreciate all the feedback on the takeout issue.

24 Sep 2012 12:01 PM


I can hardly wait until Saturday! I'm looking forward to reading everyone's thoughts.

Do you suppose we could hold some sort of unofficial handicapping contest, with the prize being bragging rights? :) It might be fun to have everyone give their top picks for the ten grade I races and see who does the best!


24 Sep 2012 1:28 PM
Mary Zinke

KY, I hope you had enough on Bel r4 and r10 and WO r10 winners to make a profit. Royal Delta is my Beldame win pick, needless to say. All-Mott Super Saturday in the top races. Flat Out and Ron The Greek exacta in the JCGC.  

24 Sep 2012 2:49 PM

Good news! Take Charge Indy, unraced since finishing nineteenth in the Kentucky Derby, is back on the work tab at Churchill Downs. He has now recorded a pair of works since September 16th, most recently breezing a half-mile in :49 4/5 earlier today.


24 Sep 2012 4:30 PM

KY Vet, I commend you for being brave enough to post your picks.  Do have to question how you make a living off this game picking 15% winners.  

24 Sep 2012 8:50 PM

KY Vet,

 I agree with Kevin, You really stink at handicapping. And your taking up alot of unwanted space on the Blog. Keep your picks to yourself.

24 Sep 2012 11:39 PM

KiT and Keelerman : Thanks for the info on Palace Malice.  That's really unfortunate, I was really looking forward to seeing his next race.  Hopefully we will get to see him race next year.  

I'm not a fan of TCI nor DNB in the early part of the year, I don't think I bet either of them once but seeing as how they're ones of the very very very few that's still standing,  I'm excited to see them run again.  I really hope this year's juveniles lasts longer...if they have to space out their races to every 1 1/2 to 2 months, I'll take it as long as they keep racing.   Looking forward to Know More's next race!

TEN G1 races this weekend ???  Holy Guacamole!!  I need to buy a bigger dart board...

25 Sep 2012 12:01 AM
Mary Zinke

What? I think he's sweet.

25 Sep 2012 12:10 AM

Guys quit picking on the Vet.  At least he lays it on the line every week.  I can't wait for his weekend picks.

25 Sep 2012 1:44 AM
Pete Denk


Sounds like a fun idea.

I will post my picks for the 10 G1 races on Saturday at Bel and SA, and blog commentators are urged to do the same.

The assumed bet will be $2 win/place. Winner gets bragging rights and online cred.

25 Sep 2012 2:03 PM

Heck yeah!  I can't wait to win those bragging rights...

I plan to crown myself "THE KEYMASTER" of the "Unlocking Winners" blog.

Heck, I'm going to go ahead and change my screen name now to "The Keymaster" in advance of my victory!

Anyone know where I can find The Gatekeeper?

25 Sep 2012 4:26 PM

NOW I'm ready for victory!!!

25 Sep 2012 4:30 PM

Thanks, Pete! That sounds exceptional! I can hardly wait until Saturday!

25 Sep 2012 4:57 PM
Joe Pettit

Thanks Pete, tell the state of PA to just make it 50% and we can turn this into a state Lotto game.

26 Sep 2012 12:34 AM
Rusty Weisner

Not playing, not picking, but I thought I'd let everyone know they shouldn't expect nice weather in New York this weekend.

26 Sep 2012 12:25 PM

This collection of responses basically underscores the findings last year that "fewer than 2% of horse players even KNOW about takeout".  These are the hard-core, industry types, and they don't have a clue fairly often, so who would believe that the run-of-the-mill fan would give a (you-know-what) about TAKEOUT??

Get off of this "takeout" idiocy... brought to you first by a collection of fools who got together under a four-letter word, and swore up and down they were going to completely boycott higher takeout tracks, and completely support lower takeout tracks.

Well, years later, the California takeout increase has been widely accepted with greater mutuels receipts to prove it.  Hialeah's 12%-across-the-board takeout from every pool was rendered a complete disaster!!  And in fact pool sizes went DOWN there WITH the 12% takeout, contrary to everything the pinheads at the 4-letter word assured.

Now stop crowing about TAKEOUT, which has been a CONSTANT forever, and start directing your attention to the common sense that will in time repair the racing industry.

26 Sep 2012 8:49 PM
Pete Denk


Takeout has a direct impact on how much money we win as bettors.

Keep track of your bets for a year, then calculate how much 19%Take vs 30%Take changes your churn and your bottom line.

26 Sep 2012 10:07 PM

Pete, as I suggested:

"Get off this takeout idiocy!"

"19%" is THE SAME in 2012 as it was in 1972, or 1988.

How about we focus instead on the reasons why brand new fans won't come back a 2nd and 3rd time?  And "takeout" certainly isn't included among them (excepting venues where you can get better food from the take-out pizza place down the road).

The reasons brand new fans won't return to racing venues for a 2nd and 3rd visit ARE, by and large, THE VERY PEOPLE YOU SEE HERE COMPLAINING ABOUT 'TAKEOUT'!!!

Who ever bothered to need to complain about "takeout" in 1981?  Racing was flush with fans all across the spectrum, the breeding business was on the upswing, as were the mutuels.

In 2012 it is precisely beCAUSE of today's regulars who are complaining about "takeout", that brand new people want NOTHING TO DO with horse racing.

You said it yourself - "takeout has a direct impact on how much money we win as bettors".

Each time you and others of your ilk WIN, (while keeping track of your bets for a year), THE EFFECTIVE TAKEOUT ON NEWCOMERS goes UP another notch!!!

In brief:  YOU ARE the PROBLEM.  Now a solution will never be found until you and others of your ilk get out of the way!!!

May I suggest a nice Hialeah vacation this winter as a start??  See if they'll bring back the 12% across-the-board takeout for you, just to have you around.  They don't even do that anymore BECAUSE YOU WOULDN'T SUPPORT IT.  You and others of your ilk continue to spout this NONSENSE and then you simply won't put your money where your mouths are.

On behalf of the rest of us:

Thanks for nothing!

27 Sep 2012 8:35 AM

Darn Pete, I didn't know you were reponsible for the slow death of racing by pointing out the exuberant takeout charged by PA tracks in the tri pool.

Most people I meet that don't go back to the track say it is because that they feel they have little to no chance of winning... mainly because they feel that all racehorses are full of drugs (which unfortunately is somewhat true.  These people are tired of losing bets to horses like those trained by Richard Dutrow that have form reversals out of nowhere.

The next most popular reason I hear from people who don't go back to the track is they don't understand the wagering and pools. I always explain to them on how the differnt pools work and how you are not playing against a house, just the other people (and computers) wagering on the races.  I then explain takeout is the way the tracks make their money, not on losing wagers.  Most people are comforted by this and don't mind paying a little into takeout.

However, 30% is exuberant and ridiculous.  I think that is what Pete was pointing out in this post.

What is wrong with trying to educate people???  Educating the public is NOT what is killing horse racing.  It is all the shady people in racing that want to hide the truth about racing from the general public. Eliminating race day medication, transparency, education, and terminating the shady people in the business that do not want to adhere to this are the only things that are going to save this great sport.

27 Sep 2012 10:34 AM
Rusty Weisner

Who is this guy and why should Hialeah be a measure of anything?  Weren't they running quarter horses there for a two-week stretch or something?  Moderator?

27 Sep 2012 12:00 PM

Thanks KEYMASTER, totally agree.  I'm not sure what PipeDope was crowing about but his/her reasoning is just ridiculous.

Because of this blog, quite a few more people are now aware of the takeouts, I don't know how Pipe turned this around into a negative and then used it as a reason new fans are not coming back.

This weekend's racing is just absolutely awesome.   Looking forward to my baby horse Know More, I think he'll win easily, maybe not much but he'll do it easily.   RTG will dominate the JCGC in my opinion.

I'll join the handicapping party, sounds like fun.  I'll try to steal the key from Bill hehe.

27 Sep 2012 12:40 PM


You may try and steal the key from Keymaster if you wish . . . but I will be right behind you to snatch it away should you fumble! :)

Rusty Weisner;

Thanks for the tip regarding the weather at Belmont on Saturday. Assuming that rain drenches the turf course during the coming days, it will mark the fifth consecutive year that the Super Saturday turf races are held over a course labeled yielding or soft.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons why the winners of the Flower Bowl and the Joe Hirsch have not done well in recent Breeders' Cup races.


27 Sep 2012 1:41 PM

Keymaster,  "trying to educate people" isn't killing horse racing:

NOT EDUCATING (newcomers) is what IS killing horse racing!!!

Can you people not get it through your thick skulls that, in 1981, there was win, place, show, and not much else.

Mere guessing gave you a 1-in-10 chance of matching the high roller's win/rate-of-return on a win bet, and a 3-in-10 chance of matching his rate of return on a show bet.

NOW, the high-rollers OPT (as in "CHOOSE") TO go for the HIGHER TAKEOUT wagers, suddenly leaving the newcomer with a microscopic chance of duplicating the high-roller's winning bet with a mere guess.

Horse racing is evolving only in the direction of its death, and NONE OF YOU can even see the arm (of racing's own) which you are collectively chewing off!!!

As for Hialeah, it was the measure of EVERYTHING a couple of years ago when it floated the MORONIC experiment that was 12% takeout in every pool.  These same people here who are now crowing about "takeout" being too high, didn't make any effort at all to wager at Hialeah when they had the lowest takeout on the continent.  It was a FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAILURE (as most anybody with any true understanding knew it would be).

And Pete merely "pointing out" the PA takeout has no effect on racing at all.  The tiny sliver of all horseplayers who even know about takeout, already knew of PA's large cut.

On the other hand, Pete telling of "how much (he) wins" at the end of any given year assures that HE IS CENTRAL to racing's demise, based on Pete's personal impact on the newcomers' effective takeout rate and the result of their not wanting to stay around for very long.

As reported earlier this year, takeout in TURKEY is FIFTY-PERCENT and their wagering is INCREASING!!

Raw takeout rates as listed in North American track programs and the like HAVE NOTHING TO DO with why horse racing has been in freefall over the past couple of decades.  They are effectively CONSTANTS, and not VARIABLES, so the sensible mind would be LOOKING ELSEWHERE for the culprits.

Racing's complete bungling of the then-new simulcast technology has been far, FAR more central to today's downfall than has anything related to takeout.


And then GET IT RIGHT.

27 Sep 2012 8:32 PM

Keelerman : Just an FYI, I don't funble, I may hit the wall or walk off a cliff but I don't fumble! :)  How late can one post their picks to be counted in the challenge ?  Can I post my picks for each race 15 minutes before the race or do I need to have them posted before the first G1 runs ?  I'm better if I can see the odds hehe.

28 Sep 2012 1:10 AM

PipeDope : Do you bet the races at Hialeah ?  Before Pete wrote this blog, I had no idea about the takeouts, now I know more about it.  I've been educated by this particular blog.  

How do you propose educating the new fans and make them come back ?  I'll tell you, if you tell the new fans "Hey, before you start betting these horses, you will be required to attend a 3 day course of how the whole horse racing industry works, how much money the tracks take out of the pool, how this.. how that... " , they'll probably leave even before they make their first bet and never come back.  I'm not sure what your whole point is really...

28 Sep 2012 1:40 AM

I welcome any challengers, but I will not relinquish the key to anyone but The Gatekeeper.

Seems like PipeDope must write for the NY Times since Quarter Horse racing is being used to make comparisons regarding Thoroughbred racing.

I suspect had Hialeah been offering 12% takeout in all pools on Thoroughbreds, handle would have likely been the highest in the country.

28 Sep 2012 9:57 AM


Personally, I don't think anyone will mind if you post your picks one by one, but that's up to Pete. I myself am going to wait until the early races on the cards are run, to see how the track is playing.


28 Sep 2012 10:01 AM

Keelerman : Yeah, thanks to Rusty's tip of the weather in NY this weekend, it'll be a doozy if it comes up wet.  I'll probably post all my picks on Saturday morning just to make it simple.  There are two races where it doesn't really matter to me how the track plays.  I think RTG is going to dominate the JCGC, With the field all carrying 126, I think the greek just has the advantage with his typical sustained run in the stretch.  I don't think Fort Larned will get the lead to himself, if there's an upset, I'm looking at Fast Falcon to do it.

The other race is the FrontRunner, Know More is just getting better and his switch to dirt will be something to watch but I think he's the best in this field.

I also want to mention that Point Of Entry will have a televised paid workout this weekend.

28 Sep 2012 12:58 PM

Hasn't there been enough rhetoric about gouging takeout rates.  The folks in horse racing who can make a difference need to do just that. Stop betting on these tracks that hijack you without a weapon.  If you don't like what they're doing, don't bet it.  We keep going round-and-round with this issue and in 2013 it's still business as usual and these tracks are flourishing.  No more whining!

11 Jul 2013 1:04 PM
Sid Halley #7

I enjoy the racing at Parx but rarely bet because of the Takeouts. i used to play Parx on Monday and Tuesday but have switched to DEL and FL to avoid the takeout. Over time the 5% additional takeout on WP bets makes a big difference.

Parx also needs to clean up their backstretch. the percentage of cheaters is also higher.

20 Sep 2013 6:24 PM

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