Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Updated

A number of recent developments have continued our focus on pari-mutuel wagering as a driver of the sustainability of the North American Horse Industry. P-M wagering is in the control of the industry that it supports, to a significant degree, and its longstanding link to horse racing fosters a connection that slots/alternative gaming cannot achieve. Successful pari-mutuel wagering, like many businesses, requires the effective combination of key success factors and management’s consistent and diligent commitment to operational and strategic excellence:

  • Desirable product and venues
  • Ethics/Integrity, a level playing field
  • Superb customer service and amenities
  • Social interaction on-site and online
  • Effective promotion of the total entertainment offering, as “the place to be and to be seen”
  • Appeal to a broad demographic audience
  • Fair value

Recent major horse racing events indicate that fans continue to embrace the sport/industry and the best it has to offer. The Elitloppet, Epson Derby, Belmont Stakes and before that the Prix d’Amerique, Preakness and Kentucky Derby signal that the sport is not dead. This past weekend the Canada Equine Expo at Guelph combined an educational and product/service offering to equestrian participants of all types and breeds, reflective of the horse industry’s breadth and employment opportunities. Additionally, despite global economic woes 2009, “turnover” at PMU-France and ATG-Sweden posted increases over 2008, with each having large pool wagering opportunities named the “Quinte” and V75/V64. These bets are daily (a single race) or weekly (Wednesday and Saturday), respectively. A menu of more traditional bets is offered at operating tracks on a daily basis. Both PMU and ATG operate many off-track wagering outlets (over 2,000 in each country) along with their online and account wagering networks. ATG offers a system generated betting option for those punters not interested in doing their own handicapping.

Just last weekend a first large pool pick-6 wager was offered in the US, aptly named the “Metro 6 Shooter” to reflect the partnership of Yonkers Raceway and The Meadowlands in that endeavor with a guaranteed $30,000 pool add-on. That’s a start, but what it will take to rival FR and SWE is a national wager offering on-track, online and account wagering wagers into a single pool that will be so large as to warrant national fan, media and widespread broadcast attention. P-M wagering on an excellent product can save the horse industry from single-minded dependence on alternative gaming and over-saturation of a product that can be viewed by some as a commodity.

The sections below illustrate the opportunity and challenges facing all participants in the horse industry. The industry must focus, must unite and must force its so-called breed registries to do their most important job….to advocate, promote and lobby for change that positively affects the sustainable economic impacts of the horse industry.

Elitloppet at Solvalla

ICELAND Erupts in the Elitloppet

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 12:08

ICELAND was crowned in Sunday’s Elitloppet in Sweden. © Daniel Palmeri /

After a third place in his qualifying heat, Iceland (Johnny Takter) won the final of the 2010 Elitloppet (Gr.1 International) held at Solvalla, Sweden. When the mobile gate released the field, Scarlet Knight‘s son took the lead with one of the favourites, Brioni (Joakim Lövgren) following him on the inside. The rhythm was rather slow in the first part of the mile race, as the leaders covered the first 500 metres in 1’11″2 km rate (1:54.3 mile rate) only. In the last turn, Iceland still had the lead and flew-off for an easy win covering the mile in 1’10″5 km rate (1:53.2 mile rate).

“This is fantastic!” said trainer Stefan Melander after Sweden’s greatest harness-racing event. Indeed, Melander won the Hambletonian in the United-States with Iceland‘s sire, Scarlet Night, and to see his son win the Elitloppet was probably the best experience ever. “Iceland is a copy of his sire, the only difference is his ability to start a lot faster,” said a delighted Stefan Melander.


Örjan Kihlström steered Iceland to third place in the qualifying race, but decided to drive Triton Sund in the final, leaving his seat to reinsman, Johnny Takter. “I am very grateful that I got this chance to race for Stefan,” said Takter. “There are many drivers who are queuing-up to drive this kind of horse. It felt good when we got to the line and I had a good feeling throughout the race,” he concluded.



Prince de Montfort Beats World Record on Elitloppet Card


Sébastien Guarato’s Prince de Montfort is the fastest French trotter under saddle in the world! With Antoine Wiels on his back, he covered the mile at Solvalla, today, Sunday, in 1’10″5 km rate (1:53.2 mile rate). He broke the previous record held by Malakite who covered 2,175 metres in 1’10″8 at Vincennes, France. However, Malakite‘s record was obtained with a standing start and on a longer distance.

Epsom Derby

The Epsom Derby, which is attended by the Queen, is the largest annual gathering of people in Surrey. The event was attended by more than 100,000 race-goers.  Workforce storms to victory in the Derby at Epsom

Workforce broke the track record with a blistering turn of foot as he won the 231st running of the Derby by seven lengths at Epsom. The breathtaking victory in baking sunshine sealed a Classic double for champion jockey Ryan Moore after his Oaks win on Snow Fairy.  It was the fifth victory in the race for Newmarket trainer Sir Michael Stoute as Workforce finished ahead of 100-1 shot At First Sight with Frankie Dettori third on 9-2 chance Rewilding.


Belmont Stakes

Drosselmeyer surprises in Belmont; wins the $1 million Belmont Stakes

An underachiever finally came through in the $1 million Belmont Stakes and gave Hall of Famers Bill Mott and Mike Smith milestones they’ve been seeking for decades. Drosselmeyer, left out of the Kentucky Derby because he failed to earn enough money, outlasted a couple of Dudes and held off Fly Down by three-quarters of a length to win the final leg of the Triple Crown. On a hot, sunny Saturday in front of 45,243 at Belmont Park, Drosselmeyer was sent off at odds of 13-1. It was Smith who made a key decision to keep his long-striding colt in the clear. He eased the horse to the outside for the run down the backstretch, always keeping First Dude within range. Drosselmeyer made a five wide move on the final turn and continued widest of all, eventually reeling in Game on Dude, then First Dude before holding off a late charge from Fly Down.

Metro 6 Shooter – First Metro 6 Shooter Pays $43,181

The Metro 6 Shooter, a pick six wager comprised of races from the Meadowlands and Yonkers, returned a hefty $43,000 payoff in its first week.  The winning sequence (1-9-4-3-2-8) returned $43,181, while the five-of-six consolation paid $232. The Metro 6 Shooter began with $30,000 added to the net pool, while another $34,476 was wagered into the pool.  The Metro 6 Shooter returns next Saturday with another $30,000 being added to the net pool before wagering. A $1 minimum wager, the Metro 6 Shooter begins in the fourth race from the Meadowlands each week. Free Platinum Past Performances and selections for the Metro 6 Shooter are available each from TrackMaster at


Odds Analysis

This past weekend’s analyzed major tracks’ actual odds and winning favorites suggests the negative effect of owner, trainer, driver consolidation and race conditions that encourage dominant betting favorites in North America. Further, the high percentage of winning favorites in North America also discourages punters looking to defeat the overwhelming choice. Many may opt not to play, or to go elsewhere where the risk/reward ratio is more favorable. The current results mirror that of studies we performed in February and March 2010 albeit the percent of winning favorites in North America has risen. Unless this matter is resolved, look for continuing P-M wagering declines, track closures and movement of wagering elsewhere to larger pools and more competitive conditions. Note that despite global economic recession, 2009 P-M turnover increased at PMU France and ATG Sweden over the prior year. There must be unified “urgency” versus discussions of music to stir the fans hearts. There is no single easy fix.

Canada Equine Expo

The annual Equine Expo, held June 4-7 at Guelph, illustrates the widespread economic multiplier of the horse industry and demonstrates its worth preserving and growing for social, environmental, employment and governmental tax revenue reasons.

“Canada has great equine and equestrian resources. We’re pleased to

offer an event that focuses on the science of horse care and training.”

Brian Kitchen – Director of Business Development & Livestock, Canada’s Outdoor Shows Limited

Ohio’s Plight Mirrors KY, IL, MI, NH, MA, CA

Ohio Horsemen meet with Governor
Sunday, June 06, 2010 – by T.J. Burkett, managing editor, Hoof Beats

Nearly 400 concerned horsemen from both the Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing communities gathered Sunday night (June 6) to meet Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and reiterate their collective desire for alternative gaming at the state’s seven racetracks. Strickland had previously gathered favor from horsemen’s groups when, last July, he ordered the installation of VLTs at racetracks as a way to alleviate the state’s budget woes. Since then, his plan has run into several obstacles, including the passage of a constitutional amendment allowing four free-standing casinos, and most recently, a referendum this coming November that will require voters to decide whether or not to allow the terminals at tracks. Strickland has been steadfast in his decision, despite the political heat that he has endured.

Nearly 400 Standardbred and Thoroughbred horsemen met to hear Gov. Strickland speak.

Lottery Commission Objections; Strong P-M Competes with Government Run Gaming

CPMA Nixed ‘Million Dollar’ Idea

The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) is a roadblock preventing the harness racing industry from developing the new and innovative betting products it needs to survive. And it’s up to the racing industry to do something about it. That was the message delivered by Ted Smith during a standardbred industry panel discussion at the inaugural Canada’s Outdoor Equine Expo in Arkell, Ontario yesterday.


Just a week after retiring from his 34-year tenure at the Canadian Trotting Association, Canadian Standardbred Horse Society and Standardbred Canada, the former President and Chief Executive Officer dumped a truckload of blame for racing’s betting woes at the doorstep of the CPMA. “Right now, the Ontario provincial lotteries, our biggest competitors, can change a game in 30 days and implement. But it takes four years to change pari-mutuel regulations,” said Smith.


Smith said Standardbred Canada has a team of young, eager people looking for new and innovative ways for racing to better compete against ever-expanding lotteries and gaming, but the door is being slammed shut by the CPMA, the federal government agency that regulates and supervises pari-mutuel betting on horse racing at racetracks across Canada. “The last time Standardbred Canada proposed new regulations, we didn’t even get a letter back from the CPMA,” said Smith. “Not even the courtesy of a phone call.”


Smith noted Standardbred Canada is not the only industry stakeholder frustrated with the agency. He told the meeting that the Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Score television network hatched an idea to re-launch its Monday night national TV broadcast as “Million Dollar Mondays” and give horseplayers a chance to win $1 million if they could pick all the winners on the Monday card. “We would have had people from all over North America watching, but the CPMA nixed it in two minutes. They said it’s not going to happen.”


Smith said it’s now up to the horse racing industry to change the CPMA. He believes the slots revenue era has led to industry complacency and that has to change. “There is a sense of self satisfaction from the participants. But if we don’t build up betting again, we’re going to be in trouble. “We need to lobby for change. The industry has to be united, have one united position and take it forward,” said Smith who feels conflict between horseman and racetracks has to end.


To make change happen, Smith said the industry must set its sights on Ottawa. With a minority government in power, he feels federal politicians will be willing to listen to the industry’s concerns. “We should be registered lobbyists down in Ottawa,” said Smith. “The industry really has not pursued the CPMA. It’s on our shoulders to do that and move forward.” Smith, for one, says he’s up to the task. “I have a bit more time on my hands now and I’m going to work toward that.”

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