06/05/2012 2:51PM

Hollywood Park: Slumping handle could cause purse cut


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A decline in all-sources handle could lead to a purse cut at the current spring-summer meeting at Betfair Hollywood Park, according to the track’s president, Jack Liebau.

Liebau said last weekend that handle has declined 5 percent compared with the 2011 meeting, attributing much of the reduction to lower field sizes.

Through Sunday, the 25th day of the 50-day meeting, the track had run 220 races with an average of 7.52 starters per race. Last year, through the first week of June, the track ran 253 races with an average of 7.64 starters. The 2011 meeting began one week earlier than this year’s season.

Last year, for the entire spring-summer meeting, fields averaged 7.69 starters.

Larger fields provide more betting opportunities and lead to larger pools.

Liebau said that business slumped last week, leading to concern about purse levels. Last Thursday, for example, the ontrack handle was $384,855, part of an all-sources handle of $4,688,552 for an eight-race program. Both were the lowest in their respective categories for the meeting, according to figures released to the media on a daily basis.

“We’re concerned,” Liebau said. “We may have to cut purses. We are not getting the field sizes that we’re expecting.

“Everything starts with the product. We’re not getting the participation that we thought. We can’t do anything if people don’t enter. I find it depressing. We’re in a critical stage as far as entries are concerned.”

Sunday, the track put a notice on the overnight for Thursday and Friday’s races urging owners and trainers to start more horses. The two-paragraph statement said the track will hold discussions with the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers about the allocations of stalls for horsemen who are not active at the meeting.

“The simple accumulation of horses shall no longer guarantee stall space,” the statement read in part.

There are approximately 2,800 horses based at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita this spring.

For Thursday and Friday’s eight-race programs, there are 57 entered for Thursday and 60 entered for Friday. The numbers of starters is likely to be fewer, after scratches.

For Saturday’s program, which includes the simulcast of the Belmont Stakes, the track is aiming to card 11 races. There were 11 races on the days of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Business should be better this week. Thursday’s program has a pick six carryover of $107,825. Interest in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes will be high, with locally based I’ll Have Another aiming for the Triple Crown.

“I’ll be disappointed if we don’t do 10,000,” Liebau said of Saturday’s ontrack crowd. “We are doing everything we can to promote the day.”

Gil Harger More than 1 year ago
I have to applude anyone brave enough to operate a business in California rated by ceo's as the worst state in america to conduct business.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In addition, so expensive to get into the track, parking fee, admission, program form expensive food and breveage (taste bad). All these add up almost 50 to 100. How can you attract the new comer to the track, (plus horrible paid out)
Nancy Rhinehart More than 1 year ago
Attention Mr Liebau.......Why did you race 5 days during Memorial Day week ? Short fields during a 4 day week there was already a big problem before your blunder. Obviously, the only way to improve your product is to race fewer days, (drop Thursdays) and stop the 5 day a week nonsense.
Ryan Soriano More than 1 year ago
AMEN.... It's called greed. As an aside, how about entice the fans, (not the kids on friday night )with better accommodations, food, attitude...... It's sad to say, but if u won't do it RIGHT, then close the place now. Santa Anita/DEL MAR does it right. Wake up and learn how to run a racetrack... As troubling as it may be in this economy in LOS ANGELES...
Ryan Soriano More than 1 year ago
What a surprise. Time to cut thursday cards. They should have been running fri thru sun years ago. Also time for horseman/vets to look in mirror and rethink those rates. 100 bucks a day, not including vet bill, leads to 3800 a month. That is a house payment for many. The players have done it to themselves. I love the game, the history, and the experience. However, many, many misguided leaders/players have destroyed this game for people such as myself don't have the ammunition of the Moss's, Zayats, Spendthrift, Harris, et al... really sad....
Michael C. More than 1 year ago
How does $100 a day lead to $3,800 a month? How many days are in your months?
Brian Herrity More than 1 year ago
Plus the vet bill, read and comprehend before you remark.
Ryan Soriano More than 1 year ago
Thank You Brian. My emotion got the best of me, so perhaps i did not express myself as best as i could. You are intelligent enough to get the message... Unlike others... give or take a few hundred, Michael should get my drift....
Dawood More than 1 year ago
Hollywood Park is Dead. Santa Anita and Del Mar will somehow survive. Pomona is not woth mentioning.The reason is CHRB and other agencies that are associated with. This whole industry is falling apart because of all the corrupt running the show. This game should have gotten better with time. I remember 1977 at HP when Seattle Slew was present to run the Swaps.There was no parking space to be found by the 1st race at the track, the 405 and the 11 ( harbor freeway ) were totally jammed at the century blvd exits, any or all the streets leading to the track were clogged up for hours, even though there was not much traffic around in those days. There is no fun or charm about HP now especially after renaming it to Bet Fair H P. My suggestion is to divide the racing dates between SA and DM and keep the premises open for satellite betting, 24 hr fast food joints, Walmart, Home Depot, Rescue Mission, Shelter for the homeless, Salvation Army, paid toilet and shower facilities.
Frank More than 1 year ago
Yea what a stupid solution -- race the horses more so we hurt them...WTF. These idiots need to stop being so greedy and run shorter meets and less races -- Put the horses first you greedy officials!
ian More than 1 year ago
When is the CHRB and the tracks going to realize that the bettor is the most important part of the food chain. Increasing the take out is not the answer, its a well documented fact that reduced take out stimulates handle and contributes to more 'churn'. For too long the bettor has been taken for granted, seen as a never ending cash cow. It was ok fifty years ago when racing was the only show in town. There is too much competition for the entertainment dollar these days, and bettors are becoming more informed and sophisticated. Dont insult them with these 23% and higher takeouts. Tracks like Del Mar and Hollywood Park are trying to incorporate new innovations like exchange wagering but a handful of trainers like John Sadler and the great visionary Frank Stronach are clinging to the status quo., Wake up the status quo is not working, do something different, it wont make it any worse than it is.
Frank Leverone More than 1 year ago
Maybe raising the takeout on doubles and exactas by 2% and putting that money into the purses will help.
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
Hollywood would be a more attractive betting proposition if they worked on the track surface (it constantly seems to be biased either for or against speed; maybe at least the bias could be consistent?) and if so many of the races weren't made up of cheap horses. The majority of the Thursday card seems to be 20K maiden claimers. I know the track management can't create a larger and better supply of horses, but the lack of quality is an issue. I also wonder about the Friday night racing. They get a lot of fans to watch bands and go to food trucks, but what is the handle like on those nights? Friday nights are notorious for huge upsets, maybe because not all horses handle running under the lights, and I certainly wouldn't invest much money betting on that day.
Lucky More than 1 year ago
How about some horses at ALL!!!!!!!!! Four horse feature races.... HArdly a race with over seven head. The trainers in California have priced the thoroughbred owner out of the business!!!!! 140-160 dollars a day and their horse run every other month. Ridiculous!!!! Quite training the poor beasts into the ground by working them every five days and run them, walk them for a couple days, then jog them, then pony them, let them be horses!!!! Not break them down. Then, you'd have more sound horses for races and then more betting interests... More wagering, etc....