08/02/2011 1:17PM

California tracks look to reduce takeout on doubles, exactas

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Racetrack executives in California have proposed reducing the takeout rates for exactas, quinellas and daily doubles by this fall.

Last week, Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau and Santa Anita president George Haines sent a joint letter to the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Owners of California asking it to support reductions in the takeout in those pools and a change in the distribution of revenue generated from the takeout of the 50-cent pick five.

Under the proposal, the takeout on exactas and quinellas would be reduced from 22.68 percent to 21.68, and the takeout on daily doubles would plunge from 22.68 percent to 15.43, the equivalent to current takeout rates for win, place and show bets.

“I think the 1 percent on the exacta is the number one issue out there,” Haines said. “We think the daily double is a struggling pool. If we can get the daily double to 15.43, that would bring attention to the bet.”

Haines said the tracks are hopeful that the lower takeout rates will attract more betting, and therefore offset any potential drop in revenue for purses.

TOC president Lou Raffetto said his organization is reviewing the proposal. “We’ll see what makes sense and come up with a position that works for the industry,” he said.

“We’re not going to sit on our hands for a long time on this. We’ll try to move in a common sense way. When all said and done I think there is something that will be modified. That’s my opinion.”

The TOC is the state’s official representative for Thoroughbred horsemen, and must approve purse contracts. There is an urgency on the part of Santa Anita to reach a resolution in advance of the California Horse Racing Board’s monthly meeting on Aug. 25 when Santa Anita’s application for a fall meeting from Sept. 30 to Nov. 6 will be discussed.

California racing has faced widespread criticism from bettors since the start of the year when the takeout was raised on bets involving two or more horses.

A 1 percent reduction in the takeout on exactas would leave takeout on that bet 1 percent higher than before the increase, which was enacted at the start of the year. The proposed takeout on the daily double would make that rate much lower than at any time in recent history.

In addition, the tracks have asked the TOC to share revenue from the takeout in the pick five. Currently most of the takeout revenue is dedicated to purses.

“We would ask the takeout distribution be equitable,” Haines said.

The bet has a 14 percent takeout and has proven popular, drawing a higher handle than the pick six on 31 of 54 days at the Hollywood park spring-summer meeting earlier this year.

Haines said on Monday that if a lower takeout rate for daily doubles isn’t established, rolling doubles may be discountinued and the bet would be offered on only the first two and last two races.

“The double is the most intriguing thing, if we can generate enough handle to make that a significant pool,” he said. “We may rethink the doubles and have an early and late double. That’s something we would discuss with the bettors and the focus groups.”