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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturday Morning Notes - March 25

- Dubai chat room is open now (during the races) at the TBA site.

- On Thursday, it was the fans’ turn to sound off to New York’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing, and they sounded familiar themes – Leave Saratoga alone. And keep Magna away.

"The historic character of the Yankee Stadium of racetracks must not be compromised….The opportunity for fans to get close to horses must not be compromised. Saratoga must continue." [Thoroughbred Times]

'We need to look at what we have here and who's looking to get in on the game. You have to be very careful, whoever you allow to run this franchise.' [Saratogian]

"I was down at Gulfstream, and what (Magna) has done down there is a travesty. There isn't a grandstand in the place. Is that what we want up here? We have to keep the fans in mind." [Bloodhorse]
Prior to the fan forum, industry types addressed the committee and also sounded familiar refrains such as legalizing internet wagering, lowering takeout, providing rebates, and consolidating the OTBs with whoever gets the franchise. With respect to the latter, one can picture Steve Crist on his hands and knees, imploring the panel: "You have a unique, historic opportunity," Crist said. "I beg the Committee to rehaul OTB with the franchise renewal."

Just like the accounts you read of arguments before the Supreme Court, when reporters try to foretell the Court’s decision based on the comments and questions from the Justices, it’s worth listening to the committee members’ reactions. So far, Bernadette Castro seems to be the only one talking. I guess she’s like the Chief Justice here. So far, it seems as if at least she is listening: "It's all about the sport. The tail should not wag the dog, or in this case, the horse," she said in response to concerns that the franchise would be awarded to an entity more interested in casinos.
"I can tell you that this committee is extremely sensitive to the heritage of Saratoga."

"I don't think it is the judgment of anyone on this committee that (the next franchise holder) should be a for-profit organization. We are extremely protective of the three racetracks." [Bloodhorse]
Another forum is scheduled for right here in Queens on April 5.

- There were four maiden special turf affairs at Gulfstream on Friday, races that make for good betting and blogging after a dull week of claiming races. Three of them featured well-bet first time starters for Todd Pletcher, directing the action from Dubai, I'm sure. The 4th was won impressively by When the Saints (Saint Ballado), making his turf debut in his third start for Michael Matz, and drawing away while running the final three furlongs in 35 3/5. This four-year old is out of Outlasting, a stakes placed Seattle Slew mare, and his second dam is champion Outstandingly, the winner, by DQ, of the first-ever Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies. And though Outstandingly had a couple of stakes winners overseas, Outlasting was her only North American stakes horse. This is the family of Bernstein and Sky Mesa; and When the Saints traces directly back to La Troienne, his 7th dam. Twenty One Dollars (Mt. Livermore) ran 5th in his debut for Pletcher after a slow start at 7-2, ouch.

Bill Mott took the sixth with three-year old Stradivinsky ($10); this barn has run in the money 9 out of its last ten races at the Gulf, with three winners. He’s by Stravinsky, out of Canadian stakes winner Lubicon. In this race, Pletcher ran second with first-timer Half Mask, at 4-1. Another turf runner for More Than Ready, he has some unusual inbreeding for this day and age, being inbred to Naskra 4x2.

In the 8th, Pletcher had the 5-2 favorite with the first-timer Fairbanks in another three-year old contest. He’s by Giant’s Causeway, out of a mare by Time for a Change (Damascus), and he’s a three-quarters brother to Keats, the winner of the Lexington in 2001. The dam, Alaska Queen, is a half-sister to Darn That Alarm, the 1987 Fountain of Youth winner; and this is also the family of Blazing Rate. But it was 5th place and more money burned, as the close second choice, Carnera, got the win for Kiaran McLaughlin.


Green Mtn Punter said...

Alan- thanks for keeping the NY franchise issue front and center on LATG. It sounds like the good guys are starting to be heard- NYRA finally got some long overdue credit from the fans and local officials at the Saratoga hearing this past week. Nice to hear some thoughts "straight from the horse's mouth" for a change instead of the usual backhanded swipes at NYRA beloved by the so-called impartial media a/k/a Spitzer's Campaign Staff.However, we all know anything can- and does- happen when the pols get in those formerly smoke-filled rooms in Albany. Caveat NY Horsemen, Horseplayers,and all who Love NY Racing! By the way, I haven't seen any posts on Empire Racing Associates? What do you think?

Alan Mann said...

I know, I was away when that group came forward. Good that the horsemen are involved in that group, but they'll be getting funding from groups more interested in the bottom line, aka slot machines.

Green Mtn Punter said...

Alan, thanks for the response. How about a more extensive discussion on Empire Racing Associates sometime soon? I agree with you that we need to be wary of those bidders looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, i.e., the video slot revenues, as opposed to those who truly want to insure NY's continued preeminence in the world of thoroughbred racing, with NY state breeding on the road to that position as well. That's why Churchill Downs Inc is an automatic tossout for me- too many conflicts of interest including it's links to Kentucky breeders. To Magna the message is: You really shouldn't be telling NY how to operate a racing franchise. Rather you should be studying in great detail what makes Saratoga the most successful race meet in North America and using the lessons learned to improve the many tracks you already control.Isn't it becoming obvious what we need? Some kind of alliance between NYRA and the NY horsemen and breeders to forge a new NY racing franchise which is in business to benefit the entire NY racing industry, and which by extension, will most benefit the people of NY State. That must be the sales pitch to the pols in Albany along with the realization that by playing games with this franchise they will pay a steep political price. That's the only language they understand.

Green Mtn Punter said...

One more point about Saratoga- and perhaps the most important. Frank Stronach says that we need the casino approach with VLT's filling every available square foot, and concerts, shopping, and many other gimmicks having nothing to do with horse racing, to attract young people to the track. Let's call Frank the Bill Veeck of horse racing- Veeck(as in Wreck) thought baseball needed gimmicks to get people to the ballpark but he was proven wrong, too. Ol' Frank must have had his blinkers on whenever he got near the Paddock-Backyard area at the Spa or he would have seen an ample supply of young people, including families with kids. Yes, you heard me right- families with kids! And they are actually interested in seeing the horses and jockeys up close and personal instead of playing video games! Saratoga's demographics,I believe, demonstrate the absolute genius of the place- they are what all racetracks would love to have and should strive to achieve!

Anonymous said...

...coupla thoghts on the World Cup races....first off, the Golden Shaheen, run over a straightaway six do the two fastest horses in the race (Proud Tower Two and Thor's Echo) combine for a $100 exacta?...and worse, how do i miss it?...i bet Thor's Echo to win, mostly because i ranked him about equal with Proud Tower Two and was getting double the price, but also because he had run well over a different surface (Gulfstream)...boy, did i mess this race up big-time...could've been a nice score...

...okay, so what'd you guys think about Discreet Cat??? it says on the Godolphin website, "All i can say is Wow"...what a performance...with only two career starts under his belt, he shows THAT???...i think we may have a freak on our hands, guys...according to Dettori, the pace was very strong, and he had absolutely no problem with it...that bodes well for his Derby chances, assuming he makes the race (knock on wood) doubt, having only three starts under his belt will be an issue, but it's hard to argue with this colt...i read a small blurb that says Godolphin might be considering aprep run in the Blue Grass?...apparently he's been nominated for that...but today's race was barely two weeks after his last one, and the Blue Grass is only three weeks hence...then three more weeks to the Derby...that seems a bit much...besides, i don't see what the Blue Grass is gonna prove anyway...he's got his earnings now, and though he could certainly use another race, i'd hate to go to the well once too often, right before the Big One no less...and as i've mentioned before, Godolphin seems capable of getting a lightly-raced horse ready for a big effort...boy, do they ever...

Anonymous said... last thought...i just compared the final times for the UAE Derby and the World Cup...Discreet Cat went in 1:48.59 for the "about" 1 1/8 miles, while Electrocutionist went in 2:01.32 for the "about" 1 1/4 miles...the "about" thing makes it tough, but basically if you say the older stakes horses hit the 9-furlong mark in the same time as Discreet Cat, then it took them 12.73 seconds to get the last furlong...that seems about right, don't you think? obviously, Discreet Cat's performance rates very well vs. the older stakes might even say he matched them...

Anonymous said...

...two big drills today...first off, Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands future book favorite Brother Derek worked six panels in 1:11 flat...i actually got two notices on that drill, the first one said "handily", the second one said "breezing", so i'm guessing it was revised?...must've been a helluva drill if he went 1:11 breezing...not to be outdone, Left at the Gate presented by Yum! Brands favorite Christening worked four furlongs in 49.14 over the Belmont training track...the move was ranked 12/40...

...speaking of Derby favorites, i was watching ABC's tape-delay coverage of the Dubai races, and shortly after Discreet Cat's tour de force yesterday, they mentioned that William Hill (who i believe is Europe's largest bookmaking firm) has installed Discreet Cat as the 5/1 favorite for the Derby...that's to be expected, however, as the Euro-books are notorious for their European bias when posting odds on international races (i believe Discreet Cat was listed @ 12/1 or thereabouts BEFORE the UAE Derby)...while Discreet Cat has has never run in Europe, Godolphin practically owns the place (along with their rivals Coolmore), so there ya fact, lemme post those Will Hill right back...

Anonymous said..., i just checked the Ladbrokes Derby futures, and their list consists of ONE horse (Discreet Cat @ 7/1)'s that for a European bias???... 8^)'s the Will Hill list...

Discreet Cat 5/1
Brother Derek 5/1
Lawyer Ron 7/1
First Samurai 10/1
A.P. Warrior 11/1
Barbaro 12/1
Point Determined 16/1
Bob and John 20/1