Liebau Talks Players’ Pick 5, Future With Stein

Racing News
Posted 02.26.13 at 1:35

Betfair Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau. © Benoit Photo

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (February 26, 2013)—Betfair Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau remains optimistic that a deal regarding the Players’ Pick 5, the reduced takeout wager which debuted at the start of the 2011 Spring/Summer meet, will be worked out with the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC).

Liebau voiced his hope while a guest Feb. 24 on Roger Stein’s long-running radio show, which airs for an hour (8-9 a.m.) every Saturday and Sunday.

The 14% takeout rate on the Players’ Pick 5, an extremely popular 50-cent minimum wager, was a promotional one, but is due to increase to 23.68%, the normal takeout for a three-legged or more wager, when Betfair Hollywood Park begins its 2013 Spring/Summer meet April 25.

Betfair Hollywood Park and other tracks receive 0.26% of each bet made in California via advance deposit wagering (ADW) while purses receive 3.25%, a figure Liebau believes unfair. “I think there should be some arrangement for the track getting such a small amount,’’ he told Stein.

Still, Liebau is optimistic that a deal will be worked out with the TOC. “You have to realize the fact that the TOC has its constituency – owners and purses – it wants to protect and Hollywood Park wants to increase its profitability a little bit, so everybody has their own interests in this game, but we’ll have to work it out.

“All this talk of threats and a new boycott is counterproductive,’’ he continued. “If everyone would just sort of chill out for the moment, I think we will be able to work this out.’’

During the conversation with Stein, Liebau also talked about how total handle at Betfair Hollywood Park and Santa Anita declined 37% when comparing 2012 to 2007. Additionally, during the same time period, daily average handle was down 22% and average daily handle on track off 36%.

“Racing needs to reinvent itself,’’ he said. “I do think we should look at takeout in general as to whether it’s at the optimum level. We should experiment – and I underline experiment – with the takeout. Some of the experiments will be fruitful and others won’t. Racing needs to do that and find out what does happen.

Liebau was also asked about the future of Betfair Hollywood Park. At this point, the track is committed to racing through the end of 2013. The Spring/Summer meet is scheduled through July 14. The Autumn dates are Nov. 7-Dec.22.

“My mandate from ownership (Bay Meadows Land Company) is to continue to run Hollywood Park on the basis that racing will be conducted there indefinitely,’’ he said.
He added that ownership has been upfront since purchasing Hollywood Park from Churchill Downs in 2005 that the property would eventually be developed if racing’s business model failed to change.

“It’s just a question now if the land has a higher and better use,’’ he said. “If it does, unfortunately, racing will cease at Hollywood Park. When that happens, I don’t know.’’

Following is the link to the complete interview, which begins at the 6:00 minute mark.

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