09/28/2004 11:00PM

Keeneland cuts takeout

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Keeneland Racecourse will lower the takeout on its pick three, pick four, and pick six bets from 19 percent to 17 percent and add a $300,000 guaranteed pick four to each Sunday card during its three-week October meet, Keeneland officials said Wednesday.

The officials also said the track will issue refunds on pick three tickets that include late scratches, instead of substituting the post-time favorite for a scratched horse. Allowing players to collect refunds on pick three tickets that include late scratches was a recommendation of a report issued earlier this year by a committee of horseplayers put together by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

The $300,000 guaranteed pick four, offered in conjunction with Television Games Network, will be offered the last three Sundays of the Oct. 8-30 meet: Oct. 10, Oct. 17, and Oct. 24.

The current takeout on Keeneland's pick three, pick four, and pick six bets is already one of the lowest for those types of bets in the country. Keeneland president Nick Nicholson said that the lower takeouts would put more money in the hands of bettors.

"It's a way for us to give back to our loyal fans," Nicholson said.

In 2001, Keeneland lowered the takeout on its wagers to 16 percent across the board for the October meet, leading some simulcast sites to refuse to take the track's signal. Representatives of those sites claimed that the lower takeout would reduce their revenues, since sites keep the difference between what they pay for a signal - in Keeneland's case, approximately 3.5 percent of handle - and the takeout.

Jim Williams, a spokesman for Keeneland, said that the track "doesn't anticipate any problems" with simulcast sites because of the new takeout structure.