Keeneland Increases Takeout To State Maximums For 2017 Fall Meeting

by | 08.08.2017 | 3:47pm
2017 Keeneland Spring Meet

Keeneland Racecourse has informed the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that it plans to increase takeout to the maximum allowed under state law during its 2017 fall meeting, reports Officials confirmed that takeout on win, place and show wagers will move from 16 percent to 17.5 percent, and it will increase from 19 percent to 22 percent on most other wagers. The Pick 5 takeout will be decreased, however, from 19 percent down to 15 percent for the October meet.

“I hope the wagering public understands that this is going to our purses to keep us competitive, it's not going into our pockets,” said Bob Elliston, vice president of racing and sales. “You have to look at it comparatively. We're going to be on par with New York, with Oaklawn, and we think we will continue to offer bettors a good product, if you look at depth of field and the quality of the fields.”

Racecourses in Kentucky are allowed to increase takeout to the maximum percentages when daily on-track handle averages lower than $1.2 million, which has been the case at Keeneland for several years. Churchill Downs boosted its rates to the same thresholds in 2014, and records indicate that despite horseplayer backlash handle has continued to increase slightly over the past several years, from $501.3 million in 2014 to $511.8 million in 2015 and $516.9 million last year.

The Horseplayers Association of North America released a statement on Tuesday regarding the takeout increases: HANA is extremely disappointed with the new Keeneland management's decision and will have further announcements after talking with our members.

“I was part of a group from HANA that spent a week visiting Keeneland back in April 2009,” recalled HANA President Jeff Platt.  “On the day we left (outgoing Keeneland president) Nick Nicholson presented our group with a Keeneland poster which he signed. Above his signature are the words, ‘Horseplayers will always be welcome at Keeneland.'  Right now I'm not sure if that's true anymore.”

Read more at, and find the entire HANA statement here.

  • Steve

    Bad move Keeneland

  • f^2

    That will save me time and money. I’ll wait for Sam Houston to open with their 12% vertical wagers. Woodbine has 15% rolling doubles. If I would stick to these, I have a shot.

    • Charles Smith

      You are so right about Sam Houston. It’s the only TX track I play, the player friendly take out is the key.

      • Ariel Bender

        Only problem is that it is Sam Houston. That’s one notch above cock fighting.

  • Brent T

    Always looking for a way to rob the customers. How bout every state start fining these cheating A** trainers pretty large and they can add that to the purses.

    • Meg Hiers

      Considering that the bettors never get paid back for a horse that is taken down after the fact due to some ruling, I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to make the trainers/owners pay the fines up front and have that money go to betting pool as a sort of carry-over kitty. If they win their case, then they can get the days back, but still get to feel what it is like when bettors lose a bet because it was found out someone was cheating or walking the line too fine.

  • Nancy Taylor

    Same foolish business model that drove many of California’s best customers away in 2011. The Pick 5 and win wagers will be the only non “sucker bets” left on the menu.

  • Pete Sundar

    NOBODY believes you, Mr. Elliston….that trick of “it’s not for us” has been played many times before. You will know if you are successful when you see your net handle results in November.

    • C Hogan

      Elliston put Turfway in a horrible way before he was let go.

  • Doug Bennett

    Outside of the now cheaper Pick 5, I’ll boycott Keeneland this fall.

    Maximizing gross profit margin at the expense of gross profit dollars. The bean counters make this mistake all of the time, across industries.

  • Otto

    Keeneland’s main track field sizes shrunk after converting from the Poly. They used to draw a lot of shippers from Presque Isle, Woodbine and Turfway to fill their low-to-medium claiming races (most of the time, they’d get full fields).

    Now their main (dirt) track is a frontrunner’s paradise – moreso now than when pre-Poly.

    • robert t

      And Saratoga’s main track has played how? It’s been such a big inside track all meet! And Churchill was no different in amazes me how people complain about tracks playing two front runners when all major tracks do the same how fitting

      • Otto

        The point isn’t about how the current main track has played. It’s more of the fact that field sizes have considerably shrunk since the switch from Poly. Handle has dropped and let’s face it, the Belmont Fall Meet is the place to be now,

        • jimmy ski

          keenland runs in April .By that time the big boys leave Florida and turns that meet into mush.I love belmont in the fall!!

  • Concerned Observer

    This is despite the bi-annual press releases bragging about the ever-growing crowds and soaring handle?????? I am confused????

    • Concerned Observer

      Let me add a couple thoughts after a moment of reflection. This really says that Keeneland, with it’s huge historic horse sales revenue, with the recent addition of instant racing revenue, able to sell pricey tickets, charge for parking, on top of huge food and beverage sales (for more revenue) still can not afford competitive purses? That is really a scary scenario for the future of racing and all the other tracks without those added revenue sources……

      • Canarse

        The real question is are they raising it because they think they need the money, or just because they can? I think it’s the latter.

  • DanM

    That’s unfortunate. Always enjoyed the short spring and fall meets, but now my Keeneland wagering will be limited to the occasional P5 bet. I don’t bet vertical exotics anywhere.

    NYRA offers me more than enough action on WPS (16%), DD (18.5%), P5 (15%). and P6 when there is a 6-figure carryover.

  • Otis

    Other than the Derby/Oaks days I haven’t bet a penny into the Churchill pools since they raised the take out. With this move, despite living in Lexington my money will go into NYRA pools. I’ve had enough ‘improved product’ that amounts to a non-graded stakes with a $150,000 purse that attracts 6 entrants: Two from the Pletcher barn, two from the Asmussen barn and two from Chad Brown. You want to improve your offering? Make it easier for small to mid-level operations to get stalls and find races. If not that, then franchise the sport ala the NFL and then standardize the rules and enforce them nationally.

  • Turf Paradise Tommy

    They’ll get away with ripping off the customer because regular gamblers never boycott tracks with huge takeouts and the whales don’t care about takeout because when the takeout goes up their rebates go up hand in hand. If players would just stop betting on these tracks that fleece them no one would raise takeout again…but they just don’t do it. Thanks goodness for Kentucky Downs, the only track that cares about the player.

  • Cheap Speed

    Times must be tough in Lexington. Raised sales commission on horses sold by $500 each and then increased takeout on parimutuel handle. What’s next, no more restroom attendants during the sale?

    • Meg Hiers

      Don’t they have to pay on that Tapeta ruling? Maybe this is where they decided to get the cash….

  • kuzdal

    It’s the right time to do this. The economy’s doing well and it’s easy to find instances in which there are (seemingly) inexplicable increases in prices. So, blame a vibrant economy.

    I actually feel bad for Bob Elliston. At least, at Turfway, he was disliked for no reason. Now, there’s a reason.

  • David Burris

    This law was put in place many years ago when most handle came from on track. It was to give Turfway Park and Ellis Park additional funding. It was assumed that Keeneland and Churchill on track handle would never dip below 1.2 million.

  • Eric Carmen

    This makes me think of one of my favorite bands….Al Bendova & The Screamers.

  • Craig

    it’s not surprising. All these tracks continue to rip the fans/betters off every chance they get. The takeout at these tracks are out of control. Without this being a governed sport you are going to continue to see this. I can’t believe how bad the product has gotten the last 15 years. It’s sad.

  • Casey Higgins

    As someone who attends every spring and fall meet. I can not say I am shocked. Keeneland used the Breeders Cup as an excuse to raise drink prices significantly and they never came back down. So we just drink in the parking lot. Now you want to charge me more to bet? When we all know your sales and instant racing endeavors are cash cows? Don’t penalize the horseplayer because your racing secretary can’t fill a dirt race.

    • Peter Scarnati

      It’s the horsemen, not the racing secretary, that can’t (don’t) fill races.

      • Casey Higgins

        Did a ” horseman” slight you in another life?

        • Peter Scarnati

          Don’t follow what you mean.
          If you disagree with what I’ve posted, please make your case. In the meantime, I’ll stick by what I posted.
          I’m pretty sure the racing secretary offers a wide range of races in the book, with the races which don’t fill receiving a lack of entries from the horsemen. Many, many times horses will be entered in races way above their heads just to run on the turf. The result being a few dirt races not filling.

          • David Worley

            Hey Peter good point about the preference towards turf races. Why is that? Is it that owners want to see their horses on the turf, or is it longevity of horses, please explain.

          • Peter Scarnati

            Basically owners/trainers will want to give their horses “a shot” on the turf to see if they are demonstrably better on that surface.
            As an example, about 20 years ago, at most good tracks the bottom race on the turf was a $20,000 claimer (no other conditions — like NW2 or NW3, of course). Many times we’d see horses which were barely competitive for $5,000 on the dirt entered in these races. Sometimes, the turf moved horses up, but most of the time they were what their $5,000 form said they were.
            I suppose there is some evidence that turf is kinder than dirt on a horse, but for as little as horses race anymore, I doubt that is a big consideration in the preference for turf over dirt.

          • David Worley

            Thanks for the informative response Peter.

  • Nytex

    I guess Churchill who owns Twinspires, one of the largest off-track betting outlets helped get this legislation passed. Sell the people on online wagering and then raise the takeout because they aren’t wagering enough on-track. Sound about right.

  • Andrew Mollica

    Ahh say it aint so! Does anyone in this business understand less is more? Just curious, but alas the lure of fast money vs. making more in the long run I guess carries the day, but one has to wonder about our industry and its future when decision like this are made! And by teh way Keeneland is one of the best places on earth to attend and/or race! Lexington in the spring is like Augusta to golf but this is not smart!

  • Michael Beauregard

    I enjoyed going to Keeneland I am very disappointed in the takeout increases This is the one track that i increased my bets I felt it was good value I doubt if I go now might play a little at O T B I feel that greed is killing racing. I play the track with the lowest takeout.

  • Big

    Is management delusional? Very surprising from an organization I thought was well run until now. They were always one of my tracks to wager on but this is a slap in the face to the bettor. Trying to sell it as putting more money into the purse account is an insult.

  • David Worley

    Bad move Keeneland!

    Here’s a thought, how about you find ways to further use the massive amounts of revenue from your sales to further support purses rather than relying on horseplayers to do this. The whole industry is off balance because breeding (and sales) dominate the sport at the expense of the on track product. If Keeneland fancies itself as a leader, it should find ways to redistribute the surplus from breeding revenues back to the track. This move says “nope, we will rely on an ever shrinking base of bettors to do this” and it makes zero long-term sense.

    My prediction is that handle will further decrease at Keeneland.

  • Andrew A.

    I’ll never make a bet there again except for a Breeders’ Cup. Look for Del Mar/Ca. to raise WPS take for their next meet to match Keeneland.




    THEY JUST DON’T GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • David Najar

    Greed will kill the golden goose that was Keeneland. I won’t even give them a pick 5 bet.

  • JustJoe

    This is going to be fun to watch. Remember Keeneland only gets the added commission on on-track wagers and most of the money is bet off track. In order for Keeneland to cash in they will need to raise the host fees to simulcast tracks and ADWs.

    I predict there will be problems.

  • Casey Higgins

    What year were you at the red mile? 1986?. While I am furious at Keeneland. I visited the red mile last October and found it surprisingly clean. New televisions, friendly tellors, great drink and food prices. Before you go downing me also. I enjoy dressing my best and tailgating under the trees at Keeneland.

    • Don’t believe it

      Moron…. Did I say anything about the tellers? Food and drink prices? Are you still cutting coupons out of the Sunday paper? How could I not down you? You make it so easy! Get dressed up on your best 1986 Members Only jacket and hug all the trees you want to tailgating at the fall meet! I don’t give a rats backside what you do when you go to Keeneland! Stay on topic brain trust!

      • Casey Higgins

        Thank you for making my point.

  • dougiedoo

    Ya put a bean counter in charge, instead of a marketing man/woman and this is the result. My God they must be romantically involved with the Churchill board. What next, an IPO?

  • George M. White

    Stopped playing Keeneland when I heard the news today about the increase in take. Good luck to Keeneland management. I play Woodbine now.

  • George M. White

    Many players in our circle liked the synthetic surface. Fields were larger and payouts better. Now that the takes are higher at Keeneland, we have strike two.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram