- The stakes could not have been higher for the companies and communities involved as the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission got set to announce their decision yesterday as to who would receive the last remaining license for a new track in the state, one that would be virtually guaranteed a license for slots as well. The two competitors were Centaur Inc., which proposed to build Valley View Downs in Beaver County, and Bedford Downs, who wanted to build a track in Lawrence County.
Officials from the two companies and counties waited with baited breath for the decision. "It'd be a great, great loss for us if it doesn't happen," [Beaver County Commissioner Dan] Donatella said. "It would be traumatic at the least." [Beaver County Times]
And the winner is……nobody!!
Lawrence County Commissioners Chairman Dan Vogler, who drove five hours to be at yesterday's meeting, said he did not know what to think after both proposals were rejected.The reasons will not be revealed until next week, leaving all involved bewildered and wondering why. This is just a guess, but perhaps it has something to do with the mud that each side was slinging at the other; just maybe, the mud came back to strike both parties in the face. Each side contended that the other developer had an element of sleaze that ought to give the Harness Racing Commission pause, the details of which are in this piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Centaur accused a Bedford executive of having ties to two mobsters and of failing to fully disclose ongoing litigation against them. Bedford pointed out that Centaur has been accused of attempting to skirt a state law that forbids gambling companies from giving money to lawmakers' political campaigns.
"I expected to walk out of here very elated or very dejected," he said. "I am neither. We didn't win and we didn't lose."
..Donatella was in a meeting at the county's nursing home when an aide opened the door and delivered the news.
"I can tell you, there was silence in the room," Mr. Donatella said. "Everyone was dumbfounded." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Whether or not that really was the reason that the two companies will now have to start the process over we’ll have to wait to find out. But whatever the reason was in this case, it’s too bad that us voters don’t have the same option; that is, to reject BOTH candidates in a race in which negative campaigning and mud-slinging is the primary strategy for each side. The race for New Jersey governor certainly fits into that category, and in this case (you may have noticed that I’m not that objective when it comes to politics) both sides had seemed equally to blame. But leave it to the Grand Old Party to reach a new low yesterday when their candidate Doug Forrester actually rolled out Democrat Jon Corzine’s ex-wife to assert that her ex "let his family down and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too." [Newark Star-Ledger] Oh man, how low can you go??!? And is any voter really going to use the word of an aggrieved ex-spouse to decide how to vote?
- Gary West of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram is looking for a new candidate too, in this case to replace Saint Liam as Horse of the Year. He’s aggrieved by Richard Dutrow’s 60 day suspension (reduced from 120, as he points out) for illegal medication earlier this year, and feels that is enough to find somebody else. He says: If you find that an unreasonable attitude, try for a moment to imagine how you're going to feel when Barry Bonds hits No. 756 over the horizon.
And, thankfully, there's an option.Well for one thing, Alex’s connections have given mixed signals as to whether he will indeed point for that race. If he does and he wins, than West makes some fair points here even on the merits of racing alone and Dutrow aside. However, as impressive as winning at varied distances and recovering from near-spills and injuries may be, I can’t imagine that the title would be decided on a cold day at Aqueduct, just a month after Saint Liam dominated the best the sport had to offer on a cold day at Belmont on the international stage. But let’s see if Alex really does make the race and if he wins, and we can have this discussion at that time.
Afleet Alex could return this month. His trainer, Tim Ritchey, said he's pointing the Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner toward the Cigar Mile on Nov. 26 at Aqueduct.
And if he wins the Cigar Mile ... well, then he'll deserve to be Horse of the Year. The Cigar would give him five stakes victories this season, compared to Saint Liam's four.
Yes, Saint Liam will have four Grade I wins, compared to three for Afleet Alex, but was the Woodward, with its five-horse field that included two hares, really a Grade I?
Moreover, Afleet Alex will have shown more versatility than Saint Liam, having won stakes from six furlongs to 1 1/2 miles, the first major stakes winner to do so in 20 years, and more resilience, having returned from an injury to capture a Grade I event against older horses. Most of all, with his escape from the maw of tragedy in the Preakness, Afleet Alex became the author of what might be the most courageous victory in all of sport in 2005.
No, if Afleet Alex wins the Cigar Mile, he's the Horse of the Year, babe. [Dallas Ft. Worth Telegram]
- It’ll now cost you more to breed to Giant’s Causeway, as he joins A.P. Indy and Kingmambo at $300,000. Storm Cat still has the highest stud fee in the world at $500,000. [Bloodhorse]