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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Saturday Morning Pre-Race Odds and Ends

- Robert Yates, who is the writer responsible for the excellent articles from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that I frequently link to here, has a story about Michelle Nihei, an assistant to Todd Pletcher who has a PhD in neuroscience and gave up an academic career at Johns Hopkins University to tend to thoroughbreds like Ashado, with whom she’s spent the bulk of the last two years.

Ultimately, this race for a longterm profession was won by horses, not molecular studies. "I think it’s like what a lot of other people would say who’ve lived their lives with horses, which is what I did when I was younger," Nihei said. "You start on this divergent career because that’s sort of what you’re expected to do or what you’re supposed to do.

" You daydream and spend all your time thinking about and trying to be with horses and looking at The Blood-Horse [magazine] and reading the [Daily Racing] Form every day. "You think, ‘Well, if this is really what I want to do, then why am I going to spend my life doing something I don’t want to do and being too old to do what I want to do?” [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]

- Stewart Elliot is taking tomorrow off from his regular riding duties at the Big A and flying to Arkansas for a crucial workout for Rockport Harbor at Oaklawn.

- Monday night at midnight is the end of the legislative session in Maryland and the deadline for an agreement on slots. In a last ditch effort to spur a compromise, Governor Ehrlich met with House Speaker Michael Busch, who will be credited with his third KO of the effort if it dies. There was no progress reported, and Busch’s comments didn’t make it seem like he even cares.
Busch said last night he told the governor he was not optimistic that a slots bill could pass the House again this year, because some members now are absent with illnesses. He said the issue was not a high priority in the final days.

"I said it takes a lot of work and a lot of preparation, and I didn't think we could go in that direction," Busch said. "There will be people bringing it up and talking about it, but I said I thought it would be very difficult to re-create that vote. [Baltimore Sun]
And he told the Washington Post, "As far as I'm concerned, tomorrow morning [slots] won't even be on the horizon.” Well, at least he seems to have an open mind. The Maryland breeders who are already feeling the effects from slots in Pennsylvania that won't even be operable until late 2006 don't find him amusing I'm sure.

Legislation to put slots at two tracks died in Indiana; and Railbird has the grim outlook for Suffolk Downs, one that even slots may not help:
Yet slots won't solve New England's long-term racing woes, and it doesn't change the reality that the land Suffolk sits on is more valuable as development than it is as a track. Suffolk has two train stops, it's minutes from downtown Boston and edges the harbor, and it's one of the largest (if not the largest) parcels of open land in a densely built metro area with an overheated real estate market. It would take more than slots to change that equation. [Railbird]

- It’s a beautiful if a bit nippy day in Queens; not a cloud in the sky and it should reach the low 60’s. A perfect day for an absolutely perfect day of racing at the Big A and around the country. Have a great day.