Sponsored by Lane Powell

Looking for a pony payday

| Print |  Email
Saturday, November 01, 2008

PortlandMeadows

PORTLAND It’s two minutes before post time for the first horse race of the season at Portland Meadows and the odds to win seem more favorable than betting on Wall Street.

Moments later the starting gate bell rings and the horses are off. It’s dreary outside on this early October day and rain has turned the track into a muddy slop. The horses stream past an odds scoreboard that resembles a stock exchange ticker.

The business of horse racing isn’t just rough in a bad economy; the Meadows, Oregon’s only racetrack, has to compete against the state lottery and Indian casinos for gambling dollars. On the opening day of the 2008-2009 season, while 401(k) plans were losing value and the unemployment rate was rising, racing managers were keeping their expectations modest.

“We just wanted the day to go off without a hitch,” says William Alempijevic, the track’s GM. Admission is free so the track gauges turnout by beer sales, the number of cars in the parking lot and how many racing programs are sold.

More important is the size of the day’s handle, industry jargon for how much money is wagered. On this day, the handle is just over $150,000, a 5% increase from last year’s opening day. But the kicker is that most of that amount is from out-of-state satellite wagering facilities, not from gamblers at the track. At-track betting was down 12% from last year, while out-of-state betting increased 18%.

Bets from outside of Oregon are precisely what Alempijevic hopes will keep the track in business, because horses run live there on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in the winter when other tracks around the country traditionally are closed.

So far it’s worked since the new schedule was adopted three years ago. But the overall horse-racing industry is down about 5% this year, a dip Alempijevic blames partly on the economic crisis.

Betting on horses, like betting on stocks, can be a costly game. But in down times one looks for any sign of hope. In the fourth race a young Oregon-bred named Mystacallie, declared by the announcer as the “people’s horse,” won.

Just then, the rain let up a bit.

JASON SHUFFLER


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

Child care challenge

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


Read more...

Baby. Boom!

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

A new co-working model disrupts office sharing, child care and work-life balance as we know it.


Read more...

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


Read more...

Money Troubles

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.


Read more...

Getting What You Pay For

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.


Read more...

Downtime with Jill Nelson

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Live, Work, Play wit the CEO of Ruby Receptionists.


Read more...

Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS