Balmoral Park (7/19/12)
Contact: Tom Kelley
Balmoral Park handle up $17,469,771 in 2012
By Michael Antoniades, Chicago Racing Analyst
Balmoral Park reported surging handle growth in the first half of 2012, showing an increase of 27 percent in handle versus the first six months of 2011. Total combined Q1 and Q2 handle of $80,909,290 for 76 programs in 2012 was an increase of $17,469,771 compared to the 2011 combined Q1 and Q2 handle of $63,439,518 on 75 programs.
The nightly average at Balmoral rose to $1,064,595, an increase of $218,735 per night versus the nightly average of $845,860 in the first six months of 2011. Going back to the successful model of the '70s and '80s, Balmoral Park went with only 847 races on 76 nights for an average of 11.14 races per program. The theory of creating more free time for the players as a result of fewer races to handicap proved successful again, as the average handle per race in the first six months of 2012 was a healthy $95,524. This could not be possible without the solid support of the Horseplayers of North America.
Sister track Maywood Park trended upwards as well. For the month of June, handle on the half mile track was up more than 12 percent. $6,607,151 was bet on nine programs compared to $5,875,973 on nine programs in 2011. The nightly June average of $734,127 was $81,242 higher than the June average of 652,885 in 2011. Maywood Park offers a $7,500 Guaranteed Pick Four pool on Thursdays and a $10,000 Guaranteed Pick Four pool on Fridays.
The Balmoral Park average of 35 percent winning favorites for the first two quarters of 2012 was the lowest in harness racing, a full 7 points under the 2012 industry average of 42 percent. The Balmoral 35 percent average compared favorably to the top Thoroughbred tracks in the country as well. In 2012, Thoroughbred winning favorite averages at the top tracks in North America were Gulfstream 34 percent, Santa Anita 36 percent, Belmont 38 percent and Churchill 38 percent respectively. The fact that three of the major Thoroughbred venues in 2012 all sported higher percentages of winning favorites is a big reason why Balmoral Park has been able to get old and new Thoroughbred players interested in harness racing because of the value being offered.
Low takeout, guaranteed pools and low minimums allowed players to last longer and gave them a much better chance to win. A four-horse super box for $2.40 instead of $24 and a three-horse trifecta box for $3 instead of $6 was a sure way to get newcomers to the winners circle more often and make the pools much larger, which made the gambling product more attractive to bigger players. Pool sizes swelled to record numbers, creating giant payouts.
The biggest payout of the year was on February 22 when the Pick 5 pool grew to $170,627. Three winners each took home $44,675.10 for their winning fifty-cent wager. The Pick Five is offered on Races 2 through 6 nightly. $1,441,061 has been wagered on this bet through June 2012 for a nightly average of $18,961. The average 2012 payout was $3,298.82 for fifty cents.
The ten-cent High Five is offered on the final race of the night. Through June 30, $1,549,814 was wagered on the bet for a 2012 average pool of $20,392. The average winning High Five paid $1,112.25 for a dime. Four times this year the High Five has paid over $10,000.00 for a dime. The highest payout was on January 14 when a ten cent winning ticket paid $13,599.60.
The Pick 4 wager at Balmoral continues to produce superb results, offering a great lesson in economics. Thanks to the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative, Dean Towers and the Horseplayers Association of North America, Track Master for the deluxe free program pages and a low takeout of 15 percent, the Balmoral Pick 4 has become a must play bet in North America. The largest payout of 2012 was on February 11 when a $1 winning ticket paid $22,958.80.
In 2009, the Pick 4 averaged $8,827 per night with a 25 percent takeout. Thirty months later in the first six months of 2012 the average pool rose to $32,209 with the 40 percent reduction in takeout. Through the second quarter of 2012, $2,447,897 was wagered on 76 Pick Fours. The average one dollar payout was $2,819.81, among the highest in Thoroughbred and harness racing. Thirty three of the 76 Pick Four payouts exceeded $1,000.00 for an average of 43 percent. Since the Guaranteed Pick Four pools were introduced in April 2011, the Balmoral Pick Four guarantees have been raised an additional five times in the last 15 months. Free program pages are available nightly courtesy of Track Master at the USTA handicapping section. The current guarantees are Wednesdays $20,000, Saturdays $25,000, and Sundays $30,000.
ANATOMY OF A BET
BALMORAL PARK PICK 4 HISTORY 2009 TO THE PRESENT
||2009 25% Takeout
||2010 15% Takeout
||2011 15% Takeout
||2012 15% Takeout
2009 25% takeout
2010 15% takeout
April 2011 15% takeout Guarantees $15,000 on Saturday and $25,000 on Sunday
June 2011 15% takeout Wednesday guarantee $15,000
July 2011 15% takeout Saturday guarantee raised to $20,000
March 2012 15% takeout Wednesday Guarantee raised to $20,000
April 2012 15% takeout Sunday guarantee raised to $30,000
July 2012 15% takeout Saturday guarantee raised to $25,000
Free program pages are available at the USTA handicapping section.
My selections and harness racing news are available at oddsonracing.com.
For more information visit www.balmoralpark.com or call (708) 672-1414.
About Balmoral Park: Located in Crete, IL just 12 miles south of 80/94; Balmoral Park has been one of the nation's premier horse racing facilities since 1926. Balmoral Park features live racing every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission and parking is always free.