- When the racino at New York’s Yonkers Raceway harness track opens sometime this fall, it was be one of the largest gaming venues in the country with some 5,500 VLT’s, and possibly another 2,000 down the road.
"No one in the industry has opened up a facility like this with this many machines," said Robert Galterio, general manager of the raceway. "It will be the fourth-largest gaming company in terms of number of machines." [Journal News]The Yonkers grandstand was demolished years ago, but now a new 120,000 square foot building is going up to house the machines, as well as restaurants and live entertainment. Yonkers Raceway, where I watched Richard Nixon’s resignation speech in August, 1974, has been a ghost town for many years now. Like the now-defunct Roosevelt Raceway, it was a victim of scandals, OTB, the Meadowlands, and, more recently, all else that ails most racetracks in terms of live attendance. But with 7 1/2 percent of slots profits slated for purses, officials and horsemen are hoping for a big revival. And hey, here’s our friend Frank Drucker, the track's PR guy, still alive and well, who says, "You'll have horses clamoring to race here…..The quality of racing will be like back in our heyday, when the quality was the best in New York."
Worth checking out is the poignant slide show “Back From the Brink – The Rebirth of Yonkers Raceway” on the Journal News page. (Hat tip to Albany Law School Racing and Wagering Page)
- Plans are in the works for an expansion of VLT’s at Saratoga’s harness track.
- The destructive dispute over VLT revenue that is killing horsemen and management at upstate Monticello harness rages on, but there’s a potential D-day on the horizon. The NY State Racing and Wagering Board has only assigned dates there through Feb 16. "What happens after that date is the question being posed to management and the horsemen," [board member Michael] Hoblock said. [NY Daily News]
- Scary news from Laurel, where a horse euthanized last week for what was thought to be a pelvic injury tested positive for the equine herpesvirus that was hoped to be isolated to Pimlico. The racing ban on horses stabled at Pimlico, which contributed to two Sundays of racing being cancelled at Laurel due to a lack of entries, has thus been extended from Saturday to Feb 7.
For Rodney Jenkins, trainer of the deceased filly at Laurel, it means that his 35 horses stabled in barn 9 at Laurel will be quarantined for 21 days, ouch. Jenkins magnanimously declined an offer to work his horses after normal training hours. "I think that's the only sensible thing any horseman can do….Let's try to stop this thing and get it over with.” [Washington Post]
Pimlico officials are now being compelled to reassure everyone that the outbreak will be over in time for the Preakness to be conducted there.
Fortunately for Pimlico, equine herpesvirus usually runs its course in a month to six weeks, according to Dr. George Allen of the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Center.There’s an excellent Q&A about the disease in the January 21 print edition of Bloodhorse which observes that since an outbreak at the beginning of 2003 in Ohio, the highly contagious disease been observed nationwide and in different breeds. There were six outbreaks in 2005 after just "one or two" in 2004. Dr. Allen noted in the print article that “We do know that it gets spread from one end of the barn to the other end in quite a rapid time period. Part of that spread is from horse-to-horse-to horse; it just runs down that aisle of stalls.”
"It would be unlikely that what's going on now at Pimlico would extend into the spring racing season," said Allen…..”The unusual thing about this disease is that until the year 2000 it was extremely rare. But since then it's really skyrocketed." [Bloodhorse]
On the Maryland slots front, the slots bill that passed the House of Delegates last year, one that would limit slots to one racetrack in the state, has been reintroduced. However, opponents and supporters alike don’t give it much of a shot, due in part to election year politics and a budget surplus. Besides, House Speaker Michael Busch, who some would blame for singlehandedly killing slots legislation the last three years, when asked if he thought the House would take up a bill this year, said simply, "No." [Baltimore Sun]
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