by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

2010 HANA Track Ratings – #1 Keeneland Race Course

Rank: 1

HANAScore: 3.23

For the second consecutive year, Keeneland Race Course has earned the distinction as the top scoring track in the Horseplayers Association of North America's rankings of 69 racetracks on the continent.

The HANA ratings are a rating system not based on racetrack popularity, or qualitative factors such as food service, but based on measurable factors with regard to horseplayer value: Takeout rates, field size, wager variety, signal distribution and handle size.

Located in Lexington, Kentucky, Keeneland has become a world-wide draw for top owners, trainers, and jockeys thanks to its two “boutique” meets – one in April and one in October – that showcase some of the finest racing in the world, and the top of the line Keeneland thoroughbred sales. Keeneland has a one and one-sixteenth miles polytrack main track, which was installed in 2006, and a seven and a half furlong turf course. Keeneland is also a member of the NTRA's safety and integrity alliance.

Like last year, Keeneland's spot at the top was greatly aided by its low takeout numbers. Win, place, and show wagers have a 16 percent takeout and all the exotic wagers (exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, pick-3, pick-4, and pick-6) have a 19 percent takeout. This all added up to a takeout score of 3.625 – tied for tops in North America.

Keeneland also has a diverse menu of lower priced options in their exotic wagers, including a 50-cent trifecta, a 50-cent pick-4, a 50-cent pick-3 and a 10-cent superfecta. Aside from those wagers, Keeneland also offers a super high five bet on the final race of the card every day.

Field size at Keeneland is another strong feature. In 2008, Keeneland sent 9.63 runners into the starting gate for every race, and although that number dipped slightly to 9.38 in 2009, that was still one of the strongest numbers in the entirety of the survey and the highest in the top five tracks.

Keeneland added to its total in the pool size component where it also scored outstanding numbers. From just 304 races last year, Keeneland had a total mutuel (win, place, and show) pool of $84,066,463 and an exotic pool total of $155,429,505. That means that on a per race basis at Keeneland, there was a total of $784,149 available in all the pools with $276,534 of that in the mutuel pools and $507,615 in the exotic pools.

When it comes to accessibility via television and advance deposit wagering, Keeneland's signal distribution is rated lower than average. In the United States, all of Keeneland's races are shown live on the TVG network with wagering and live streaming available to customers through their website. Keeneland is also carried by major advance deposit wagering services like Twinspires and YouBet, as well as some smaller ones. In Canada, HorsePlayer Interactive offers wagering and coverage on HPITV. Keeneland is also one of the few tracks that offers free live video and replays right off its own website, and produces its television signal in crisp high-definition.

After combining all these factors into HANA's formula, Keeneland received an overall score of 3.23, which works out to a grade of B+.

Qualitatively, Keeneland tends to be proactive and strives to be at the forefront with technological innovations such as Trakus. In addition, they have added a ‘polycapping' database to their website as a horseplayer resource. To further help the horseplayer, the spring meet marks the debut of detailed weather information, including track temperature, wind direction, average wind speed, rainfall and ambient temperature which is updated every 15 minutes on the scratches and changes webpage at Keeneland.com

In summary, in looking at Keeneland Race Course when assessing tracks to wager on, horseplayers should be immediately drawn to three things. First, the low takeout on all wagers and the diverse amount of wagers offered; second, the high field size, and third, the strong amount of dollars in their pools.

HANA congratulates Keeneland for topping the list of the 69 tracks in North America, and we thank everyone for reading and participating in this year's HANA Track Ratings.

For a summary of the methodology used to calculate the HANA Score, please click here.

If you would like to join us at HANA and be a part of next year's ratings where you can give your opinions on your favorite tracks, you can for free, right here.

  • Indulto

    HANA ranked 69 North American tracks for 2010, but I only had to look as far down as Monmouth at #34 and Belmont at #27 – both below the California Racing Fairs at #25 – to see that HANA’s perceptions appear to collide with reality.

    Saratoga at #16 beneath synthetic-controversy-ridden Hollywood at #15, Santa Anita at #13, and Del Mar at #8 – all below both Evangeline Downs at #7 and Ellis Park at #6 – suggests that some important Grade I stakes venues have been devalued in favor of tracks whose average pool handles suggest far less interest in their proceedings.

    I know. I know. It’s the METRICS, Stupid!

    And indeed the other day I did characterize HANA’s metrics as illustrating the type of thinking track management needs to embrace. Well, I still believe that, but common sense needs to be factored in somehow. Let’s look at the top two rated tracks, Keeneland and Churchill Downs, respectively, in HANA’s track table:


    We can see that takeout is identical in all pools, but Keeneland is accorded an edge because of its lower wager minimum for the Pick3 and Pick 4 and slightly higher average mutual pool per race over its abbreviated, stakes-laden meet last year.

    But this year, Churchill will be hosting the Breeders’ Cup and thus will be the site of the three most-watched-and wagered-on days in 2010 (assuming the Derby and Preakness winners are not the same). There will be no defection by anti-synthetic owners and players at any time, while Keeneland’s Derby and non-turf BC preps will lose significance in 2010.

    No doubt in my mind that Churchill outranks its Kentucky cousin this year.

    But 2010’s top spot should have gone to Monmouth which is promising the highest quality cards in racing from the end of May through the beginning of September with the intention of appealing more to the recreational bettor than the professional while also offering them high value opportunities with their 15% takeout Pick 4 and 50-cent minimum Pick 5 wagers.

    So the question is, “What type of players are most likely to find HANA’s metrics useful and what percentage of all players do they represent?”

    Finally, the timing of the announcement that Keeneland was selected as HANA’s #1 rated track on the day before their meet opens has an odor reminiscent of that of New York Governor Peterson when he selected AEG as the Aqueduct Racino Operator just before attempting to solidify support for his re-election campaign from Reverend Flake.

  • Minker

    Indulto, HANA’s ratings may be useful for guys sitting in their basement betting on races all day. The ratings may also earn HANA’s board members a special perk or two at Keeneland. The rest of us will glance at the list, shrug, and look forward with anticipation to betting Monmouth, Belmont and Saratoga as usual.

  • J mack

    HANA is a joke,I don’t know why Ray even wastes his time with them.

  • I’ll ask anyone here who criticizes the list for their list (and on what basis from a horseplayers perspective, because that is what this is), and what weight you would give field size, takeout, distribution of signals, handle, and bet variety, and if they would add other variables.

    HANA is always listening to horseplayers.

  • PT

    It will be neat to see what happens with Monmouth this year. One might surmise they will move up.

    As for grade 1 races, if Philly Park ran 900 grade one races and charge 30% takes, I dont think a group on the horse bettors side should move it up. 30% takeouts say they dont want my money and they should be penalized. They should maybe think about taking a grade 1 race off the sked and put it into growing our sagging bet instead. I dont bet, nor will I ever bet, tracks with higher than average takeouts, even if it is a Breeders Cup race. I believe this is the way we will make racing better for people, long after we are all gone.

  • Barry C.

    The 2010 HANA ratings are how the tracks fared for 2009!!
    Not for this year!
    Boy,I hope all you guys have money in the same pools I bet into!
    We need all the dumb $$ we can get!

  • Indulto

    Wherever we’re wagering from — and for however long — any takeout will diminish our bankrolls unless we cash a few tickets along the way. The higher the takeout, the more often we need to cash – or the higher payoffs we need to get – in order to stay solvent, much less show a profit. So we are well-advised to look for low takeout opportunities whenever they’re offered on races we’re willing to bet, in wagers we can be comfortable making, at venues to which we have wagering/viewing access.

    So the HANA track table enables us to determine where opportunity is likely to lie among currently active venues based on our individual situations and preferences.

    I suppose the metrics as currently defined and weighted would be most valuable to someone simply looking for as many wagering opportunities where he/she has a proven statistical advantage to exploit regardless of venue (and who had access to all), but that’s a different problem from comparing venues which aren’t open simultaneously or following the sport’s equine stars between graded stakes venues on weekends and holidays.

    I generally don’t have much success with races whose entrants can’t break a 70 Beyer figure, or trying to isolate the winner on synthetic surfaces, so I seldom try unless it’s part of a horizontal exotic that might otherwise interest me. I’ll be playing MTH simultaneously with BEL and subsequently SAR, and will usually play the pick 4 and pick 5 at MTH (15%), but seldom the P4 at NYRA tracks (26%). I will avoid dime supers and trifectas at MTH, NYRA, and AP stakes and turf races (25%), but will play them at SA, HOL, and DMR (20.68%). I’ expect to swim in those pools at KEE and CD (19%) as well as OP (21%) for almost all races of interest to me there.

    Maury E.,
    If you’re listening, I would suggest that HANA define the various distinct component player groups it represents and determine the percentage comprising each, as well as the percentage actually playing each track — both within each group and overall. It might then be able to come up with a ranking tailored to each group after developing a metric measuring the impact of each track’s graded stakes program, if any, on each group.

    What is the likelihood that a majority in any component group would rank any track as #1? Rating a track that has limited on-line play nationwide is like making a tree fall in the forest.

    Barry C.,
    I’m interested in ratings I can apply this year which I believe the track table’s takeout values reflect. You now know in which pools I can be found. Come and get my money, if you can.

    Gov. Paterson,
    I apologize for misspelling your name, but I was overwhelmed by that analogy at the time.

  • Mike P

    Good job HANA! Keep up the good work. Everybody will have their own opinions on ratings (A, B, C, D, etc) but we appreciate the spotlight put on tracks which go the extra mile and listen to us horeplayers.


  • rwwupl

    To those who are critical of this fine reference guide that is advancing the cause and giving voice to horseplayers everywhere,I suggest you get involved and contribute your ideas to HANA. HANA is bringing light to the darkness.

    I can assure you that the Regulators and the Managers of the tracks are glad that someone cares enough to contribute to our great game,without being paid,and are treating HANA with the greatest respect.

    From the HANA website:


    “To join us at HANA and be a part of next years ratings by offering your opinion, click here. It’s free.

    To look at our methodology and algorithm for the ratings system, please access the player resource section of our website here: ”

    To contact us at HANA, please email us at info @ hanaweb.org,

  • Indulto

    rwwupl wrote, “I can assure you that the Regulators and the Managers of the tracks are glad that someone cares enough to contribute to our great game,without being paid,and are treating HANA with the greatest respect,” and repeated the mantra, “To join us at HANA and be a part of next years ratings by offering your opinion, click here. It’s free.”

    How does the HANA leadership plan to actually involve its membership in determining next year’s ratings? If all suggestions continue to be filtered by the HANA board — without awareness of, consideration by, or discussion among — the general membership, how will members know what ideas they might support are not pursued and/or enhanced through open discussion and polling?

    Responding to criticism by playing the “no appreciation for no compensation” card is getting old, even when attempted by new leaders. These ratings might be a case of “you get what you pay for;” at least from a player standpoint. It could be argued that, without accountability, a self-appointed few are free to pursue agendas others might not support with greater transparency.

    Thankfully, the Paulick Report not only permits, but fosters the free exchange of ideas. One can only speculate as to the “Blood-Horse’s” motivation for not renewing their sponsorship of these ratings, but most interested parties benefitted from that decision, in my opinion. So let the grateful and appreciative stand up and be counted in these pages (no HANA board members or Rodney Dangerfields, please).

    In the light that HANA has indeed brought to the darkness of the takeout issue and other factors, perhaps the Paulick Report will consider polling its readers as to their top ten-ranked tracks.

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