- I noted with some amusement and much sarcasm the other day the comment by Bernadette Castro when she said of herself and the other members of the Committee on the Future of Racing: "I think every member of the committee learned something they did not know before” at the two days of hearings conducted in New York last week. Reading Jeff Scott’s piece in today’s The Saratogian, the comment becomes more harrowing than funny.
There were a couple of scary moments at the recent public hearing held by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing. The first came when, following a brief history of New York racing by Bennett Liebman, committee members were asked if they had any questions.Folks, these are the people deciding the future of racing in New York. And if you think that’s frightening, consider the sight of Frank Stronach touting these empty political appointee suits on his vision of Saratoga Race Course as a year-round entertainment destination. Especially since, as Scott notes, Stronach himself may be lacking somewhat in his understanding of the role of great racing, rather than great food and air conditioning, in the success of Saratoga.
As it turned out, they did. The first question was, 'What exactly is 'takeout'?' Another was, 'Could you define 'guest simulcasting'?'
Even Saratoga would not survive long as it is without a reputation for featuring the best the sport has to offer. It's not clear whether Frank Stronach understands this.Catching up from the past weekend, Matt Hegarty in the Form had an excellent wrap-up of the hearings. He had this observation on Magna’s proposal to entertain separate bids for the racing and racino operations. The officials framed the request in language suggesting that the company is not that interested in slot machines.
In fact, last week in Albany the Magna chairman appeared to question New York's pre-eminence when he said, 'I have great respect for (NYRA president) Charlie Hayward, but if New York racing is so great, how come there aren't more New York-breds running?'
Is Stronach, an Eclipse Award-winning owner and breeder, confused about the relationship between the state's racing and breeding programs? Would he figure it out if he were awarded the next franchise? [Saratogian]
That claim belies the reality. In fact, Magna likely cannot afford to bid on the slot-machine business. The company has lost $350 million over the past four years and is heavily indebted, making any effort to go up against casino heavyweights difficult at best. So instead, Magna is asking the state to strip away the most expensive assets in the RFP so that it would at least have a chance at the racetracks. Since tracks will still get their subsidies from the slots regardless of who operates the casino - at least, under current law - why buy the whole pizza shop when you can get free slices? [Daily Racing Form]