Newsletter: Racing! Final day before racing takes a week off

Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we have another handicapping lesson from Rob Henie.

The other day, we proposed changing the takeout of Santa Anita’s new roulette bet from 15.43% to 5.26%, which mirrored the house edge in double-green casino roulette. Of course, state regulations would make that impossible, plus the fact that the people in racing rarely can agree on anything.

It got us thinking as to where the money goes in takeout and how such a change would affect all these entities that have their hand out for part of the action. (Although, with lower takeout, the churn would likely be greater.) To say the formula is complicated would be an understatement.

Now, the newsletter format doesn’t allow us to display things in a workable spreadsheet, so be patient as I go through each of the categories. You can think of this with a list of horizontal categories made up of on-track handle, off-track handle, California ADW handle and exports, which is basically out-of-state. Then think vertically, where there are three buckets, the track take, purses and everything else.


We’re going to use the fall meeting at Santa Anita to illustrate each of these points. And realize the numbers don’t always add up perfectly. So, let’s get started.

The on-track handle (that’s one of our horizontals) at Santa Anita was $14,222,734 and all but $2,819,602, or 19.76%, went back to the bettors. So, where did that $2.8 million (and these are the verticals) go?

-- The track took $1,146,373, or 41% of it.

-- Purses got $1,305,734, or 46% of it.


-- Then the rest of it, $358,495 or 12.8%, went to:

-- CHRB support got $177,697.

-- City of Arcadia taxes got $46,935.

-- Equine research fund got $14,223.

-- Workers comp fund got $40,328.

-- Breeders fund got $79,311.

OK, do you have how this works? Guess what? Each revenue source has different metrics. Now the next one.

The off-track handle was $14,077,808, all but $2,886,212, or 20.5%, went back to the bettors. And that $2.9 million went to:


-- The track took $620,658, or 22% of it.

-- Purses got $887,301 or 31% of it.

-- And the remaining $1,378,269, or 47.8%, went to:

-- CHRB support got $200,075.

-- The city of Arcadia got $46,457.

-- Equine research fund got $14,078.

-- Workers comp fund got $48,577.

-- The promotion fund got $35,195.


- -Stabling and vanning fund got $281,556.

-- The expense fund, which is essentially the cost of doing business by paying mutuel clerks, tote, signal distribution, etc., got $351,945.

-- CHRIMS, which is the service that does the accounting on all wagering and makes sure the money is distributed correctly, got $7,039.

-- Location fees got $314,503.

-- And the breeders fund got $78,845.

Up next is the California ADW handle, which was $15,051,920, all but $3,091,327, or 20.54%, went back to bettors. So, that $3.1 million went to:

-- The track got $627,111, or 20% of it.

-- Purses got $900,382 or 29% of it.

-- And the remaining $1,563,834, or 50.6%, went to:

-- Hub fees to California ADW providers got $725,904.

-- Department of Industrial Relations got $4,444.

-- Equine research fund got $16,295.

-- Backstretch, retirement and welfare fund got $68,845.

-- Workers comp fund got $51,481.

-- Stabling and vanning fund got $73,260.

-- Expense fund got $376,298.

-- Location fees got $176,723.

-- Breeders fund got $68,585.

And finally, the big-ticket item, which is out-of-state betting. The handle was $118,279,178, and all but $24,772,060, or 20.94%, went back to bettors. And that $24.8 million went to:

-- The track got $3,284,147 or 13% of it.

-- Purses got $4,067,045 or 16% of it.

-- And the remaining $17,420,846, or 70.3%, went to:

-- The out-of-state tracks collected a whopping $16,403,798.

-- CHRB support got $389,577.

-- Workers comp fund got $424,327.

-- And the breeders fund got $203,143.

All right, those are the numbers. Bet you are a little surprised that the track doesn’t get as much as you might have thought. It underscores how important the on-track handle is to keeping a track profitable. Anyway, you might need a couple of Sunday morning mimosas to really dig down into those numbers. Or, if you have enough mimosas, you really won’t care.

Weekly handicapping lesson

Here’s our weekly contribution from Rob Henie of the WCHR (West Coast Handicapping Report) and the ECHR (East Coast Handicapping Report). The thinking is if you can know and understand the strategies, it will make you a better handicapper.

Today’s lesson is from the first race at Gulfstream. Take it away, Rob.

“The opener from South Florida is a maiden $25,000 claimer at five furlongs on the turf. So, here’s a race that begs the question — is it better to side with a runner such as SPICED RUM PUNCH, exiting a $16,000 when just missing, or, IMMACULATE HEART, facing lesser, trying to find more? When it comes to comparing droppers and sharp cheaper types, we have a basic ‘rule of thumb,’ and that is, over the short distances, such as this one over ⅝ on the turf, we’re looking for the quicker runner early on. A five-furlong distance on the grass is about the same exertion-wise as a four-furlong dirt race, thus, cheap runners can often show a lot going ⅝, but when going a bit further such as 6, or 6½ furlongs, the ‘cheapness’ is often evident late. In the end, we’re actually not gonna side with either of the runners we mentioned above, but rather, the runner we feel is quickest to the ¼ pole, very possibly SALSITA ROJA (#4). She strings races together for the first time since September, now facing lesser, shortening up an ⅛ of a mile, also moving to the turf, with Luis Saez taking over, all signs pointing to a front running effort. SWEEPANO (#1) debuts for Teresa Pompay, and there’s some speed sprinkled into the mix, which we have to see from this barn when live with a firster. Nik Juarez is a nice fit, and if she fired over this shorter distance first time out, it won’t surprise us one bit.

“Hot / Cold Race Trends: none

“ECHR Maiden Power Rating: - 7.00 (very weak group)

“Win Contenders (order of preference): 4-1

“X Out Runners (eliminating on the win end): 2,5,7,8

“Positive Notes:

“9 Spiced Rum - Off for the first time in three starts.

“Negative Notes:

“8 Mia’s Bobtail - Came home in :28.2, need to try and beat.

“First Timers:

“11 Legalize It - Will need the debut.


“SECOND CHOICE: SWEEPANO (#1 4-1 Juarez) Debut”

Los Alamitos thoroughbred review

I usually don’t like to talk about how the exotics are doing, but Los Alamitos had a very unusual pick 5. Now, I’m sure there is a great thrill in winning a pick 5, although personally I never go beyond four races, and even that is extremely rare. So, think of all those that hit the early pick 5 on Saturday. Let me give you the winning prices of the races: $2.60, $3.80, $3.00, $5.60 and $4.00. The payoff for five correct: $21.90. Ouch.

OK, now let’s look at the fifth race, the $100,000 Soviet Problem Stakes for Cal-bred 2-year-old fillies going a mile. Hotitude ran a nice race from the front but then a freight train named Kookie Gal came flying down the stretch to win by four lengths. Hotitude was second and Creative Instinct was third. Kookie Gal paid $4.00, $2.60 and $2.10.

“[Trainer] Peter Miller made the right decision to take the blinkers off today,” said winning jockey Flavien Prat. “She relaxed perfectly and then gave me a real good kick in the stretch.”

The West Coast Handicapping Report can be found at It has been endorsed by leading trainers, handicappers and industry sources.

Los Alamitos thoroughbred preview

The last day of the meeting has 10 races starting at 12:30 p.m. The feature is the male version of Saturday’s Soviet Problem Stakes, a mile for Cal-bred 2-year-olds. The favorite is Galilean at 4-5. He is one of two races, winning the Barrett’s Juvenile Stakes at Los Alamitos and a second in the Golden State Juvenile Stakes at Santa Anita. Jerry Hollendorfer trains and Prat has the ride.

The second favorite is Our Silver Oak at 2-1. He has won one of four and finished third in the Barrett’s Juvenile. He was second last out in an allowance. William Morey is the trainer with Drayden Van Dyke in the saddle. Post time is listed at 3:17 p.m.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 7, 5, 6, 10, 7, 10, 7, 7, 8, 12.

Big Races review

A look at graded stakes or races worth more $100,000 or more on Saturday.

Aqueduct (3): $150,000 New York Stallion Series (Fifth Avenue Division), NY-bred 2-year-olds, 6 furlongs. Winner: Forgotten Hero ($13.60)

Tampa Bay (4): $125,000 FTBOA City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes, Fla-bred fillies 3-years-old, 7 furlongs. Winner: Silver Bay ($20.20)

Gulfstream (5): Grade 3 $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, 3 and up, 1 1/16 miles. Winner: Sir Anthony ($53.80)

Tampa Bay (6): $100,000 Inaugural Stakes, 2-year-olds, 6 furlongs. Winner: Gladiator King ($18.00)

Tampa Bay (7): $125,000 FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes, Fla-breds 3-years-old, 7 furlongs. Winner: World of Trouble ($2.40)

Gulfstream (8): Grade 3 100,000 Rampart Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 mile. Winner: Tequilita ($7.60)

Gulfstream (9): Grade 3 $100,000 My Charmer Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 mile on turf. Winner: Capla Temptress ($10.00)

Tampa Bay (9): $100,000 Sandpiper Stakes, fillies 2-years-old, 6 furlongs. Winner: Fashion Faux Pas ($5.80)

Gulfstream (10): Grade 3 $100,000 Sugar Swirl Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 6 furlongs. Winner: Dream Pauline ($5.40)

Gulfstream (11): Grade 2 $200,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes, 3 an up, 1 1/8 miles on turf. Winner: Glorious Empire ($17.00)

Los Alamitos (5): $100,000 Soviet Problem Stakes, Cal-bred fillies 2-years-old, 1 mile. Winner: Kookie Gal ($4.00)

Big races preview

A look at graded stakes or races worth more $100,000 or more on Sunday. All times PDT:

10:18 Aqueduct (3): $150,000 New York Stallion Series (Great White Way Division), NY-bred fillies 2-years-old, 6 furlongs. Favorite: Sassy Agnes (1-1)

3:17 Los Alamitos (7): $100,000 King Glorious Stakes, Cal-bred 2-year-olds, 1 mile. Favorite: Galilean (4-5)

4:52 Remington (9): $100,000 She’s All In Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 mile 70 yards. Favorite: Adore (9-5)

5:22 Remington (10): $100,000 Trapeze Stakes, fillies 2-years-old, 1 mile. Favorite: Merada (5-2)

5:52 Remington (11): $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile, 2-year-olds, 1 mile. Favorite: Epic Dreamer (8-5)

Jose Contreras LRC play of the day

NINTH RACE: No. 8 Out of Patience (4-1)

He lost a tough stretch battle against fellow rival Twirling Tiger last time out, but I think he’s in a good spot to turn the tables on him today. I like the outside post position and he should be able to track the speed early on and get a trouble-free trip.

Saturday’s result: Hotitude ran a nice race on the front end and re-rallied in the stretch, but Kookie Gal was much the best. Hotitude was second.

Jose Contreras is an excellent handicapper and well known on social media and familiar to racing fans watching on TVG. You can follow him on Twitter at @losponies or check him out at his website.

Ed Burgart LA play of the day

FIRST RACE: No. 6 Holy Plan (9-5)

The price isn’t terrific but I love the way that the race shape favors this well-drawn mare. She should press or stalk likely leader Very Thankful and runs her best races when drawn outside. The added one-half furlong also is in her favor since her main competitor Very Thankful is more effective at 4 furlongs.

Final thoughts

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And now the stars of the show, Saturday’s results and Sunday’s entries.