- Paul Moran in Newsday, commenting on the NYRA audit report, disputes the notion that matters have improved since a federal monitor started keeping an eye on things:
NYRA may be making the federal monitor and Hevesi happy, but it has ceased to operate as a functional racing and gambling enterprise.Indeed, the Albany Times-Union notes that several no-bid contracts have been issued since the December 2003 deferred prosecution agreement that assigned the federal monitor, and, in particular:
Kenny Noe Jr., while serving as president and chairman of NYRA, may have lacked political savvy, may even have been contemptuous of Albany, but he knew how to operate a racetrack. Terry Meyocks, the designated scapegoat when NYRA was prosecuted for transgressions that began long before his arrival here, was not without shortcomings but he was sensitive to the horsemen and gamblers. There are perhaps good intentions among those now in control but good intention is no substitute for expertise. Most glaringly, with NYRA in crying need of an executive with intimate knowledge and experience in the day-to-day operation of a large racetrack, it hired as president Charles Hayward, a man with a distinguished if not particularly germane background in publishing. [Newsday]
Even still, perhaps the biggest contract awarded without following bidding procedures -- multi-millions to MGM to handle NYRA's proposed racino at Aqueduct -- was overlooked by the auditors. NYRA operates the Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga racetracks.- On the first day of racing at Belmont since Ghostzapper’s retirement, his half brother, first year sire City Zip, had his second winner with a NY bred filly named Little Miss Zip. City Zip stands at Lane’s End for $15,000, and his sibling will certainly command more, but how much more? Will his fee be set with the fact that he was only able to start 11 times in 4 years in mind? City Zip has 66 foals in his first crop, and just 48 in his second. And Ghostzapper’s connections Bobby Frankel and Frank Stronach have a late developing 4 yo named Record Buster (Alphabet Soup) who debuted in April and ran his record to 3-3 with an impressive allowance win yesterday.
Hevesi spokesman Jeffrey Gordon said the comptroller's auditors did not investigate the MGM contract because it was inactive during the time of the audit. [Albany Times-Union]
Also at Belmont, trainer Christophe Clement stayed hot, sending out two more winners including Saffir, a 3 yo colt by Unbridled out of a Storm Cat mare who sold for $1.8 million as a Keeneland September yearling, getting his maiden win in his second start. His second dam is stakes winner Speed Dialer, who’s a half to graded winners Tricky Creek, Parade Ground, Parade Leader, and Wavering Girl, a Canadian 2 yo champ and the dam of Military; nice family.
And the suspension of Richard Dutrow hasn’t slowed down his stable, now under the guidance of assistant Juan Rodriguez. He sent out two more winners yesterday, including Slew Motion, who took a state-bred stakes at 1-9 after running second to Seeking the Ante in the G2 Nassau County BC.
- John Servis got a bit of revenge on a Philadelphia radio sports-talker who had been quite vocal in his criticism of all connected with Smarty Jones for his early retirement, going on the air and telling him
"I talked to the Chapmans twice in the last two days" - referring to Smarty Jones' owners Roy and Patricia Chapman. "We're going to do it. We're going to put him back in training in about two weeks... . The only problem is we've got to get the OK from the vet, but it's been a year, so I think we may be OK."[Philly Inquirer]He got a lot of people there really excited, but it was just a gag, which he apparently pulled off quite convincingly.
- Just a couple of days after thoroughbred’s defending champion was retired, word comes that last year’s harness Horse of the Year, Rainbow Blue, is injured and possibly out for the rest of the year. Rainbow Blue is a 4 yo filly pacer who won 20 out of 21 races and $1.2 million in purses last year, and she returned this year in top form, taking her first four starts. "The last time I drove her [June 4 at Woodbine] she went 1:49 2/5 like she was going a mile in 2:00," said Rainbow Blue's regular driver, Hall of Famer Ron Pierce, "and she could have gone a lot faster.” [NY Post] She was scheduled to face a tough field in a stakes at the Meadowlands Friday night, but a tendon injury has put the rest of her season in doubt. Her owner/trainer George Teague Jr said: "The prognosis is that she may be out for the rest of the season.” [US Trotting Association]