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Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Night Notes - April 21

- Laurel reported a huge increase in total handle for their winter mmet, on the order of 44%, wow! Maryland racing officials attributed the gain to the new turf course, which allowed winter turf races which attracted an average field size of 11.6 starters. So you could say that Magna actually did something right here. The increase, along a reduction in the number of racing days (Thursday – Sunday only), allowed Pimlico to raise purses for its meet, at least for the dirt races. Apparently, the grass races don’t need an increase, so they’re spending their money wisely, and applying the increases to dirt races only. Pimlico, which averaged $173,000 in daily purses last year, now will offer approximately $215,000 per day.[Washington Post] The good news is a reprieve after a bleak winter in which saw an equine herpes viral outbreak and a quick and early, though expected death to slots legislation died in an election year. Maryland Jockey Club president Lou Raffetto issued a reminder of the big picture.

While the Maryland tracks appear to be gaining solid financial footing, Raffetto cautioned the well being could be temporary. Nearby Philadelphia Park and Penn National are expected to begin installing slot machines on their grounds sometime next year, fueling purses that likely will double those offered in Maryland. [Washington Post]
Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi was credited with killing the slots legislation there, decrying the possible social cost of expanded gambling. Now it’s been revealed that DiMasi has accepted campaign contributions from out-of-state casino executives and lobbying companies that stood to suffer losses from increased competition if the machines were approved. DiMasi got money from the CEO of Harrah’s, who is hoping to build a casino in Rhode Island, as well as from lobbyists for that gambling giant. A GOP executive, who should be well familiar with corruption, had strong words for the Speaker.
“DiMasi might as well hang out the sign Speaker For Sale.....It’s very obvious that big money from out-of-state gambling interests, who didn’t want to see more competition from Massachusetts, played a big role in the sudden vote on this issue.” [Boston Herald]
A DiMasi spokesperson issued the usual denial adding that the campaign does not "track" donations. Those quotations marks were evidently added by an AP editor with a wry sense of humor.

- The Boston Globe reports on the planned schedule for a certain $16 million colt.
Chances are The Green Monkey will make his 2-year-old debut this summer at Saratoga, maybe run once during the fall before the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, then make his 3-year-old debut next winter in Florida. After that, it will be into the Triple Crown mix, with a return to Churchill Downs next spring.
For $16 million, I suppose Coolmore is entitled to expect a lot out of the horse, but that’s sure presuming a lot, isn’t it? How about they get him to the races first?