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Monday, June 27, 2005

Friends Present the Obvious

- Friends of New York Racing has released their “preliminary report” on the state of NY racing, and it’s filled with incisive observations such as: the NY horseracing industry is facing serious problems; OTB was the biggest change to NYRA’s business model since it took away most of its customers; slots money increases purses (accompanied by revealing charts showing things such as purses before and after slots in West Virginia); the present business model needs to change; there were no weapons of mass destruction; and other things we already knew. They propose two new ownership models; one a government/private ownership partnership that seems to be modeled after that at Woodbine, the other a complete privatization (both models allow for a 10% “non-profit” ownership, though it doesn’t go into detail). They discuss allowing the OTBs to merge into the new company. But the bottom line in the proposal is this, and what a surprise: slots, slots, and more slots - 5,500 more than currently proposed, to be housed at Belmont Park, where there’s generally enough open space for probably ten times that amount. While there’s little new and innovative that I can see here, given the way the legislature has watched as the industry heads down the drain, I imagine they need everything spelled out for them in this way. You can download the document here (preliminary report)(pdf).

One of the more significant points they make is about the VLT tax structure in New York, which is way more than in other states.

Even after 2005 legislation allowing New York track operators to retain a slightly higher percentage of VLT net revenues than previously, racinos in New York are still taxed at the highest rate in the country. This situation has diminished the amount of capital available for facilities, has diminished the ability of operators to market and promote at the same level as other states and, thus, in the opinion of most analysts, has had a dampening effect on revenues, including the amount produced for the State and education.
Still, the report goes on to cite the purse increases resulting from VLT's at Saratoga Harness, and doesn’t even mention the success at Monticello, nor the lofty aspirations at Yonkers I posted about earlier. One thing that is not addressed until an additional comment made by a member following the body of the report is marketing – “Fan creation is the industry’s single most important need.”

- Roman Ruler is entered in a 7 furlong allowance race at Belmont on Wednesday.
"We shipped him there on Saturday," Baffert said. "He's not ready to go a mile and a sixteenth yet." Baffert was referring to the Grade II Dwyer Stakes to be run at Belmont on July 4. From Wednesday's allowance race, Baffert plans to run Roman Ruler next in the Grade II Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 7 before trying the Grade I King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 27. [NY Daily News]
- Just how slow was Wild Desert's win in the Queen's Plate?.
.. the running time of 2:07.37 (with a crawling final quarter-mile of 27.39 seconds) was the slowest fast-track time since the Plate was restored to a mile-and-a-quarter distance in Woodbine's inaugural year of 1956. Only two winning times have been slower since — Royal Chocolate (1973) and Amber Herod (1974) — and each of those came in knee-deep slop. [Toronto Star]
In fact, the harness horses got home quicker in the Canadian Pacing Derby Saturday — 27 1/5 seconds as opposed to 27 2/5 over a slow Woodbine surface yesterday [Star]. Still, owner Daniel Borislow claims to have collected $100,000 in winning bets in addition to the 60% share of the $1 million purse, so I’m sure he doesn’t care about the time. I’ll look forward to betting against him when he comes back to the States.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting report on financial impact of the horse industry