The handicapper roster for the 2013 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge has been released along with the standardbred rescues involved in the competition. This year's roster represents a strong group of handicappers who will be making spot selections in Grand Circuit races starting next Friday at Northfield Park where the Courageous Lady will be contested. Handicapping selections will be made available at the contest website each morning of the contest.
HANA would like to thank those sponsors which have committed funds for distribution amongst the top three rescues. The sponsors who have already committed are the Hambletonian Society, Chicago Harness (Balmoral and Maywood Parks), New Meadowlands Racing, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, and Red Shores Charlottetown with additional sponsors anticipated.
Great news for Woodbine horseplayers as WEG has announced a takeout reduction of 2% on their win wagers, bring the rate down to 14.95%; good news that is provided you are a thoroughbred player as the takeout remains 16.95% for WEG's standardbred meet.
We, as much as anyone else, are puzzled as to why the takeout was not reduced for its standardbred meet. The answer may be the fact Hastings Park is offering a 15% takeout for its thoroughbred meet so WEG decided to undercut it, but I have to wonder if it has more to do with the fact wagering on thoroughbred racing supports the runner's purse account much better than it does for the standardbred meet. If this is the case, it may be WEG and its thoroughbred horsemen felt they were able to reduce takeout in an effort to stimulate wagering in the hope it increases wagering while the standardbred horsemen were left unwilling to try anything which would risk a further hit to their purse account.
Update: WEG Explains Policy
I understand it is a scary new world in Ontario, more so for standardbred horsemen than thoroughbred, but the very refusal to cut the rake is what has contributed to the problem the standardbred industry finds itself in. Make no mistake, I understand the hunker down attitude amongst the standardbred horsemen but it is during these difficult times horsemen must reach up and show some guts.