As it turns out, Ron Geary, the new track president at Ellis Park, was a lone voice crying in the wilderness of bettor-friendly racetrack owners. Looks like the bad guys won again. What a surprise.

In case you missed it, Geary stated at last weeks Racing and Gaming Symposium, hosted annually by Arizonas Racetrack Industry Program, that his Henderson, Kentucky track would no longer offer a Pick Four with four percent takeout, the lowest taxed wager at any track, anywhere.

Overall handle at Ellis was lower this year than in 2006, but none of it can be attributed to the Pick 4. Geary did not quote figures but did say that Pick 4 handle improved. (HRI researched the figures several times during their 2007 meet and found Pick 4 handle up significantly).

Geary noted, too, that handle in the straight pools on the final four races, which were part of the daily Pick 4 sequence, also increased.

So the wager was a win-win for Ellis and Pick 4 bettors but ultimately was unsuccessful because it did not make enough of a positive impact to be renewed. While he didnt state the reason publicly, politics is at the heart of this problem. Yet another surprise.

Lower takeout is the enemy of racetrack operators and off-track bet takers because it costs them revenue in the short term. And in this instant society, good ideas will not be given sufficient time to catch on. Tracks simply are unwilling to allow lower takeout wagers the time they need to make it a revenue winner--especially those tracks needing to protect and enhance shareholder value.

Not all of Elliss simulcast partners offered the wager, citing financial, programming, and regulatory issues. The tracks that did offered the Ellis Pick 4 did so reluctantly as an accommodation.

As the new owner/president of a track trying to re-invent itself, Geary is under pressure to be less intrusive with his off-track partners. At the same time, his stated goal is to enhance Elliss national reputation as a player friendly venue. He's one of the good guys.

Like Hyman Roth, who always made money for his partners, I must realize that the bottom line is, well, the bottom line and that Geary has an obligation to the simulcast community. But he cares deeply about his on-track fans and, to that end, will offer a new wager, details about which will be released in early 2008.

Geary would be well advised to offer the promised innovative wager on-track only, with a similarly extremely low takeout. If his simulcast partners want it, fine. If they dont; no harm, no foul. Geary shouldnt force a short-term loser down the throat of his business partners.

But if Ellis is to deserve a reputation as a true player-friendly track, Geary needs to finish what he started. If it was right then, it is right now.