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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wednesday Night News and Notes - June 15

- Well, bad news from Maine. Slots proponents failed to get enough Senate votes in favor of a referendum on the proposed tribal racetrack/casino to thwart Gov. Balducci’s threat to veto the action. Though it was passed by the House with a 2/3rds majority, the 22-13 vote in the Senate fell two votes short, so the governor is expected to deny the statewide vote. That’s a drag; a vote would have provided weeks worth of good material. But reading on further, it’s probably a good thing,

State Rep. Ben Dudley, D-Portland.... said a November vote on the racino could affect a possible vote on that same day on repeal of an anti-discrimination law for gays and lesbians passed earlier this year.

Dudley said a gambling referendum would help bring conservative Christian voters to the polls. Opponents of the gay-rights measure are collecting signatures now to get a statewide vote in November to overturn that law. [Portland Press Herald]
Actually, I would think it would be the other way around - that the conservaitve Christian voters would come out en masse because of the gay/lesbian issue and vote against slots while they’re there. After all, that’s supposedly how this president was elected, wasn’t it? And as this president vows to bring democracy and freedom to the world, in at least one case by starting a war, we have our own American Taliban leading efforts in Maine and elsewhere to institutionalize discrimination and hatred of a class of our own citizens? If the Army is ever able to recruit any new soldiers, perhaps they should go to Maine to defend the freedom of our own people. (And while they’re there, they can check out some slots and harness racing in Bangor.)

New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi is a Democrat and a good guy who worked to get compensation for shareholders of Worldcom directly from the pockets of the company’s directors. He also runs the NY State pension fund, and late last year he announced that same-sex partners of New York state government workers who get married in Canada qualify for the same pension benefits as heterosexuals. [Court TV].

Hevesi today released a blistering audit report on NYRA, saying that the "New York Racing Association is the poster child for mismanagement and corruption."
"NYRA takes the cake….This is the worst agency of all."

The audit shows widespread violation of state bidding contracts, including a near $800,000 no-bid deal for Web-cast services by the son-in-law of former NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz. Hevesi called on Schwartz and others to resign from the NYRA board; he focused on those who were at NYRA before a federal monitor was brought in to oversee NYRA's finances in December 2003. [Bloodhorse]
Oh man. While he noted that new NYRA management are “good people” and that most of the problems occurred before a federal monitor was appointed to oversee the agency, he also pointed out that most current NYRA board members were on the board when the problems occurred, and that they should depart. There’s more in the article, check it out, and they'll be much more on this to be sure. This makes up for Maine, at least for awhile.

- It’s been a tough go for trainer William Cesare at Churchill. He came from Florida with four horses mainly to run Second of June in the Stephen Foster, only to see them all get snared in the equine herpes quarantine; in fact, one of his horses, a 2 yo, died from the disease. Now, his Second of June is hurt, and “he'll probably be off 60 to 90 days or something like that.” [Bloodhorse] I imagine that the horse got a better diagnosis than than the one Dr. Bill Frist had given Terri Schiavo. Just from watching her on tape, he declared "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli." The autopsy revealed she was blind.

- But there's life after the Triple Crown on Saturday with FIVE big stakes in addition to the Stephen Foster at Churchill, and wow, what a day!
The other stakes, with top contenders, are the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (Shadow Cast, Island Sand), the $200,000 Northern Dancer (Don't Get Mad, First Word), the $200,000 Jefferson Cup (Rush Bay, Gun Salute), the $200,000 Regret Stakes (Sweet Talker, Cape Hope), and the $100,000 Opening Verse (G P Fleet, Senor Swinger). [Daily Racing Form]
That's not to mention Ashado in the Phipps and the national Pick 4.