by Greg Reinhart, HANA member
Located in the heart of Oklahoma City, Okla., is Remington Park, which grabbed the number three spot on HANA’s rankings of 65 racetracks in North America. Remington conducts a mixed-bred meet, mostly consisting of Quarter Horses, from March through June, and then hosts a Thoroughbred meet from August through December. Remington Park contests their races over a one-mile conventional dirt oval and a seven-furlong turf course.
Takeouts on wagers at Remington compare very favorably to the other tracks that HANA surveyed and therefore it received a grade of "B-." In addition to regular superfectas, Remington also offers the 10-cent superfecta alternative. Remington also offers pick-4 and pick-6 wagering.
HANA contacted Remington Park’s track announcer Dale Day for some comments about the track, and he was quick to point out that Remington Park is a good place to place wagers.
"Value for horseplayers is always important," he said. "If there is no value perceived, bigger payoffs on more wagers becomes a must, and that is more difficult to accomplish on a regular basis with the wagering favorites winning roughly one-third of the races."
"We were one of the first tracks to add the 10-cent superfecta a few years ago and it has been a tremendous play here," he continued, "especially considering that almost once per race card (sometimes more) it manages to have a payoff of $1,000 or more. To get a hit like that for a dime-based wager is outstanding."
Another feature of Remington Park is the high average field size of 9.6, which tied for second among the surveyed tracks. Day noted in his comments to HANA that field size was of great importance to Remington, and then related it to the payouts that the track has.
"Remington Park has been fortunate to maintain strong field sizes for many years," he said. "We have even topped the 10-horse-per-race mark in the past."
"We definitely think field size matters as it helps increase the level of payoffs, especially in the exotic wagers and multiple-race wagers. While we have our fair-share of favorites that go off at less than 2-1 odds, due to larger field size we do not have that many even-money or lower favorites in races. This is a huge plus for horseplayers, and this takes place even considering such high percentage trainers with barns here like Steve Asmussen, Bret Calhoun and Donnie Von Hemel, to name a few.
"Remington Park does consider larger field size a goal in our racing presentation but we also make sure we card enough high-end allowance races so the stakes-caliber horses have their fair share of opportunities to compete throughout our season," he continued. "We offer a competitive mix of races, not just all claiming events to fill fields. By offering solid racing conditions across the board, we are able to entice good trainers with talented horses to stable here each season, with new operations coming in every year. We actually had to build two new barns in our stable area last year, in order to accommodate the increased interest to race here."
Remington Park also has some great features for both fans and bettors that attend the races on-track, in addition to its availability to the simulcast and ADW crowd through Xpressbet.com and Twinspires.com.
"The first thing you would hopefully enjoy (on-track) is free admission, free general parking, and if you prefer, free valet parking," Day said. "We offer that each and every day of the year with and without live racing. The free valet is offered at both entrances to our facility so you don’t have to go driving around to get it.
"We’re proud to offer the admission and parking for free as it can get old to a horseplayer having to be out enough money for at least an across the board wager or a $1 exacta or $1 trifecta key/wheel before they have even seen a horse. Remington Park realizes that money will more than likely be used to wager, thus creating the possibility of more winning, more happiness for the player and more churn in handle. It’s positive for all involved: the horseplayer, horsemen’s purses, Remington Park, etc.
"We would also want you to join our Lucky Circle Club, our player rewards program. It’s free to join and is a way for us to reward you as a player. You simply swipe your card as you make your wagers, and we can then credit you with points good to redeem for free food, programs, etc. throughout the year. You also receive a monthly direct mail piece with various coupons for free wagering (Lucky Bets) included. These can be used on both live racing and simulcast racing. We do have some things in the works for the New Year but can’t divulge at this time, so stay tuned."
Remington Park also has a casino at its facility, which opened in November of 2005. This has been a major boon to the purses at the tracks, and Day also pointed out that handle went up following its opening.
"Remington Park opened its casino on Nov. 21, 2005, at the very end of our Thoroughbred season that year. A total of four race cards were conducted with the casino open so no affect can be gleaned from that short time," Day said. "On-track handle on Remington Park racing went up in 2006 (compared to 2005) while that same handle stayed even in 2007 compared to the prior season. The 2008 season was the first to show a decline in on-track live handle compared to the prior year. We believe the slowing economy contributed to that statistic as much as anything.
"We do track all of our play at Remington Park for those that sign-up to our rewards program (both racing and casino) and know that many of our horseplayers also spend quality time in our casino as well. As our racing product continues to grow (record purses paid again in 2008, third-consecutive year), we are confident that horseplayers will not forget about the action on the track any time soon."
The reasonable takeout numbers, excellent field size, and strong offers/perks for fans and bettors led to an overall grade of "B-" for Remington Park, and the third place in HANA’s rankings.
(Editor’s note: The views and rating system are expressly those of the bettors’ advocacy group Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), and not affiliated with Blood-Horse Publications.)