'Mutuel Fun' Could Get Test at Keeneland Meet

Keeneland will request approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority Sept. 27 to offer a new wager whereby patrons can invest money in a group of predetermined selections during each racing program at the meet that begins Oct. 8.

The wager, called "Mutuel Fun," is similar to a mutual fund in that people would invest money and rely on someone else to manage it. Because of legal ramifications, however, the selections for each race would be predetermined and available to patrons before they decide to invest.

The minimum ante would be $20. Six races a day--the third through the eighth--would be used for Mutuel Fun, though the designated handicapper making the selections doesn't have to wager on every race.

The idea would be to maximize potential profit. The handicapper's "track record" would be published each day.

"It's designed for people who may be infrequent visitors to the racetrack," Keeneland public relations director Jim Williams said. "The idea is to give someone a chance to have a rooting interest in several races."

Keeneland would publish the selections, as well as the percentage of the total pool invested in them, each day. Winners would be paid at the conclusion of the final race in the sequence according to their percentage of investment. Otherwise, the bets would be made in standard pari-mutuel fashion with the usual commissions and no other fees.

"We still have some details to work out," Williams said. "We'd probably start slow with it but we think it will have appeal to members of groups."

Williams said the original concept came from Kip Cornett, a Thoroughbred owner who handles advertising for Keeneland through his company, Cornett Advertising of Lexington. The idea was pitched to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which in turn asked Keeneland to try it out on an experimental basis.

The NTRA has advocated new wagers to help stimulate interest and ultimately handle.

"After having several discussions about what you can do or can't do, we settled on this," Williams said. "It's something we want to try."

The Keeneland fall meet runs through Oct. 30, with racing Wednesdays through Sundays. The opening weekend program (Oct. 8-10) will feature major stakes that serve as preps for the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Lone Star Park.