01/20/2010 12:00AM

Allred calls need to raise takeout 'sad thing'


The temporary 2 percent increase in takeout at Los Alamitos approved by the California Horse Racing Board last week comes at a time when the Quarter Horse operation at the track is no longer profitable and several simulcast locations within California are threatening to discontinue the signal, according to testimony before the board.

Attorney Rod Blonien, who appeared with Los Alamitos track owner Ed Allred before the racing board, said that Los Alamitos's Quarter Horse operation has been operating at a loss since September 2008. The situation could worsen. Some simulcast locations in the state have told Los Alamitos management that they will cease offering simulcast wagering at night, when Los Alamitos runs Thursday through Sunday, because of insufficient handle.

The higher takeout will reduce the amount of money being returned to winning bettors, but track officials said it is a necessary option to keep satellite locations operating.

"This is something that's alien to my thinking," said Allred, a noted bettor and horse owner. "This is a sad thing for me to do."

The takeout will increase from 15.63 percent for win, place, and show bets to 17.63 percent, and from 20.88 percent to 22.88 percent for all exotic wagers.

The higher takeout was approved only through Sept. 8. In the interim, Los Alamitos has been instructed to present information on how the higher takeout affects handle.

"If this is a disaster, I'll be the first one to change it," Allred said. "The night simulcasting is hurting."

Allred said that some of the simulcast locations in the state were being paid by Los Alamitos to remain open.

"We're subsidizing some of them already out of operational funds," he said.

Allred offered no criticism of the racing board's decision to put a sunset clause on the higher takeout. He said Los Alamitos's Quarter Horse handle faces competition from Australian Thoroughbred racing, which is simulcast extensively in California. In addition, simulcast locations have been hurt by the growth in the last eight years of account wagering, which has made it easier for bettors to stay home and follow racing.

The increased revenue from takeout will be divided two ways. One percent will go satellite locations to offset costs for operating during the evening, after the more lucrative afternoon signals in California have been completed. The other 1 percent will be divided by Los Alamitos and its horsemen, in the form of purses.