Gulfstream takes lead on takeouts

January 18, 1995|By Bill Finley | Bill Finley,New York Daily News

The premise is simple: lower the price of your product and people will buy more of it. Only most racetracks don't get it. Takeout levels at most tracks are outrageously high, the game is dying, and few tracks seem to want to take any steps to make the needed changes.

But there is a beacon of light. For the second straight year, Gulfstream Park has lowered its takeout levels and track president Doug Donn wants to change the rules so he can make severe cuts in the upcoming years. So far, so good. Business was up dramatically (about 11% on-track) last year and expectations are 1995 will be another banner year.

"I think fewer people are coming to the races because they're no longer having fun, because we're killing them," said Donn. "I don't think we've lowered our takeout enough. I've come to realize that the structure of racing is wrong and we need to change our focus. We need to severely lower our takeout."

Currently, Gulfstream must pay a fixed percentage of the handle to its horsemen in the form of purses. Because of this, Donn said it would be impossible to lower the takeout any further. But he wants to change the regulations so that purses are a percentage of the track's commission, and not total handle. If he can accomplish that, he may lower the takeout to 12 percent or 13 percent.

In the meantime, root for business to boom at Gulfstream, a track trying to lead the rest of the industry out of the dark ages.

* Trainer Jimmy Croll continues to crank up Holy Bull for Sunday's Olympic Handicap at Gulfstream, which will be the colt's 4-year-old debut. The 1994 Horse of the Year worked five furlongs in 59 2/5 seconds Monday. . "Right now, I think we're right where we should be," said Croll. "He has done evrything I have wanted him to do coming up to this race."

Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin also worked yesterday at Gulfstream, breezing three furlongs in 38 seconds in his first work this year.

* Kentucky Derby runnerup Strodes Creek, the best horse in America according to Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham, again failed to live up to the promise or hype. After breaking slowly in Saturday's San Fernando at Santa Anita, he never showed any life as the 7-5 favorite and finished a dull fourth, 4 3/4 lengths behind the winner, Wekiva Springs.

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