Could Aftercare Grades Be Followed by Integrity Ratings

POSTED ON  |  14-09-2018

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The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) confirmed to TDN last week that “aftercare grades” for individual racetracks will soon be a new component of the influential Track Rating System that the non-profit bettors’ advocacy group publishes annually. The move is a recognition that horseplayers are increasingly factoring Thoroughbred welfare into their decisions about whether or not to wager upon certain tracks or circuits.

But even though Jeff Platt, the president of HANA, is emphatic in his belief that the Track Rating System needs to use its clout to divert betting money away from the worst welfare offenders by letting horseplayers know which tracks rate “A” or “F” in terms of aftercare efforts, he openly admits he is still struggling with the best way to quantify such a subjective and complex issue. In fact, Platt said he’s been so fixated on researching existing aftercare programs and getting the new ratings right that his summer-long tinkering with a “secret sauce” algorithm to quantify his findings is what has caused HANA to be five months late in releasing its entire slate of ratings for this year.

Since 2009, the Tack Rating System has ranked how bettor-friendly tracks are based on analytical data points such as takeout rates, field sizes and handle trends (in all, there are more than two dozen sortable categories; you can view the 2017 list here). Bettors, in growing numbers, are seeking out the HANA ratings to get an idea of how much bang they’re getting for their wagering bucks. In addition, HANA has taken credit for initiating several successful pari-mutuel boycotts in recent years, mostly over high takeout complaints. Perhaps as a result, racetrack executives are increasingly aware of (and sensitive to) where their products stand in the HANA ratings.

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