06/22/2016 2:00PM

Too early to gauge lower takeout's effect


It’s too early to pass judgment on Canterbury Park’s grand experiment of lowering takeout this season, but while betting on the track’s live product has increased year over year through last Sunday, gross handle hasn’t risen enough to compensate for the decrease in revenue caused by the takeout decrease.

All-sources total handle on the meet that began May 20 was $10,587,069, up 4.9 percent from $10,095,092 for the same number of days at the start of the 2015 racing season. Out-of-state handle on Canterbury’s races, the area the track hoped would most greatly expand because of its well-publicized takeout reduction, was $7,186,452, up 4.4 percent from $6,884,845. Ontrack handle is up 5.9 percent, from $3,210,247 to $3,400,617.

Canterbury’s blended takeout went from 20.5 percent in 2015 to 16 percent this year, so $1,411,393 was taken from handle last year compared with $1,149,832 from the same period this year.

“I hesitate to comment too much on it because we don’t really know what’s happening yet,” said general manager Eric Halstrom. “We have these major swings. One day the handle’s way up, the next day you have a tough day and you can’t figure out exactly why. It’s so early in the meet, these numbers are skewed.”

Canterbury has struggled with field size this season. Through last Sunday, all races had averaged 7.5 starters, while Thoroughbred races had averaged just 7.37 starters. Thoroughbred races in 2015 averaged 7.98 starters for the meet and 7.62 starters through June 19. Favorites at this meet have a 41 percent strike rate, a high number.

“One thing I can tell you is it doesn’t matter what your takeout is when you have short fields, scratches, things like that,” Halstrom said. “The entries are starting to get better. Watching the work tab and where the 2-year-olds are at, I think things are going to get better. There are just some days in there that really skewed our numbers.”