- Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated has some sobering thoughts about the industry on this Derby Eve Eve, themes that regular readers of this blog have seen before:
For most Americans, horse racing is like Mother's Day: It's something that suddenly appears in our consciousness in May, then disappears for a year as soon as the roses are cast over the withers of some lucky colt you might -- might -- have heard of in an office pool. Of course, most sports office pools now are for March Madness. The Kentucky Derby has become the Brigadoon of sport.It is always with some melancholy nowadays when I prepare to spend a weekday at Belmont, knowing how empty it will be. Apparently they had a nice crowd of over 9,000 for opening day yesterday, with free admission and cheap concessions to celebrate the track's 100th anniversary. It's almost as many people who came to see the Wood; I guess dollar Racing Forms are more appealing than Derby prep races.
There is, in fact, nothing sadder -- or eerier -- than a visit to a major track these days. These great linear palaces were built to hold crowds of tens of thousands. Now, sometimes only a few hundred desperate souls rattle around down the great long grandstands. Tongue in cheek, we used to refer to these racetrack regulars as "improvers of the breed."
This past Sunday, a typical race day, a mere 4,000 improvers of the breed bothered to show up at Aqueduct. Four thousand -- in New York. Listen, on a Sunday in New York, 4,000 people will stumble off the street just for some kid's first communion. [SI.com]
- Bill Finley does a good job on espn.com today; I thought it was just going to be another one of those articles about all the Derby “rules,” but by identifying those who have tried in the past to break them, it adds some perspective to it all:
No horse has won the Kentucky Derby off a layoff of four weeks or more since Needles in 1956. Since, 31 have tried.... Most of the horses violating this rule have not been considered serious contenders. Among the better horses who didn't qualify in this area are Stephen Got Even and Serena's Song.I don’t know that I agree with his last statement there. I think you could argue that perhaps it was the fact that those contenders only had two preps that caused them to fall short, especially those who went on to win afterwards; whereas the fact that not many serious contenders have tried to win off a longer layoff makes that the shakiest rule on the grounds it really hasn’t been seriously tested much.
No horse has won a Kentucky Derby with two preps or less as a 3-year-old since Sunny's Halo in 1983. Since, 44 have tried. Since 1955, horses having two preps or less are 1-for-51 in the Derby. Several came close to winning despite having just two preps. Bold Arrangement (1986), Best Pal (1991), Strodes Creek (1994), Victory Gallop (1998), Proud Citizen (2002) and Lion Heart (2004) were all second after having two preps or fewer. Based on so many close calls of late, this appears to be the shakiest rule among the many rules. [espn.com]
- What is this asshole doing here?
- This sounds familiar: Slots are not looking good," [Florida] Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said late Wednesday evening.
The Senate bill (SB 1174) sponsor said that his chamber will refuse to accept the Class II machines, and called the machine style a "deal breaker."The legislative session ends tomorrow.
"We'll send them a bill with Class III and if they come back with anything different, I imagine we'll deal with it next year," said Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole.
He said his chamber has "from day one has had no interest in bingo."
"We have a slots bill. That's definitely a deal-breaker," Jones said. [Palm Beach Post]