- 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]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."
'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]
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."Another forum is scheduled for right here in Queens on April 5.
"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]
- 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.