RSS Feed for this Blog

Thursday, April 21, 2005

They're Not 24 Hour Party People

- While yesterday was a good day for Churchill Downs as far as their agreement with the Jockey Guild goes, it’s clear that they face an uphill battle for their proposed racino at Fair Grounds. While the state may have signed off on their plan, local residents are mounting opposition to the company’s hopes to be able to have their slots operating around the clock, as all other casinos and slots parlors in the state do. The City Council promised residents that they will follow their wishes, and what they want is clear, from the results of a survey:

91 percent opposed letting the track have 24-hour gambling but 38 percent said they would accept the slots if they are limited to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

However…56 percent said they would oppose even the limited hours, and 87 percent said they fear that if the slots are approved for the limited hours, the track's owners would seek to expand the hours soon after.

When asked whether neighbors "should tolerate whatever is asked of them in order to ensure that the horse racing continues and the Fair Grounds stays open," 95 percent said no.. [Times-Picayune]
The COO of Churchill said that it would not be economically feasible to add a planned $20 million building to house the slots if they could operate only 12 hours a day.

- Pimlico is open without slots, and with little hope of seeing any soon. Trainer Dale Capuano observes, "Not having slots here has been a big downfall for us….We're having to cut days and races. That trend will continue. I don't think racing will die, but the days are dwindling down.” Optimistically looking ahead to the day that slots do come, he says, "There are probably a lot of slots players who will get tired of that….and then cross over to horse racing." [Baltimore Sun] That may be extremely optimistic thinking on a couple of accounts.

- More details on the letter sent to Dr. G of the Jockey Guild by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield.
"Serious questions have recently been raised by well-known jockeys, media reporting, and papers filed in federal litigations regarding your leadership and management of the Guild, as well as the Guild's use of its resources on behalf of its members," [Courier-Journal]
Whitfield also cited the plight of jockey Gary Birzer; it was his paralyzing injury that first brought to light the fact that the Guild had let its insurance policy lapse. The whole affair is unbelievable really; it’s hard to understand why there have been virtually no consequences for the Guild up to now other than the CHRB investigation, and that it’s the U.S. Congress that has to take the lead.

- Bellamy Road worked out at Churchill this morning.
Following fractions of :13 1/5, :25 4/5, and :38, Bellamy Road, according to Churchill Downs clockers, went his final two splits in an unusual :11 4/5 and :13 before galloping out in 1:16 2/5 with an additional eighth in :13 2/5.

"It was exactly what I was looking for," Zito said. "He looked good all the way around, and I got him galloping out in 1:15 4/5."

In regard to the contrasting closing splits, Zito said. "I worked him around both turns, so the points of call were not at the normal poles. We all had his closing eighth in :11 and change. It was a great work and Carlos (Correa) did it perfectly." [Bloodhorse]
I see that Jessica over at Railbird, citing totally valid concerns such as his lack of experience and eligibilty to bounce, says that she’ll pass on hopping the Bellamy bandwagon. After witnessing that display in person at Aqueduct, I’m so far on it at this point that even John Bolton couldn’t harass me into hopping off! But there’s still a bit more than two weeks to go (only!?!?). I’m open to suggestions and new developments, and anyway, to me, betting on the Derby is about finding value in a race that the favorite rarely wins, and often not the same as deciding who I think the best horse is. Still a long ways to go.