- Handle at the recent Tampa Bay and Beulah meets were up, and it seems we’ve been reading a lot of that lately, haven’t we? Turfway, Santa Anita, Hawthorne, Oaklawn, Laurel, even Aqueduct. There have been different reasons cited – Polytrack at Turfway, the new turf course at Laurel – but a lot of it comes down to field sizes, and Tampa, according to the Form’s Matt Hegarty, had one of the highest field-size averages in the country at 9.57 horses per race this year, up from 9.34 last year.
"It's a signature we try to place on our meet, large field sizes," said Peter Berube, the track's general manager. "The racing office really did an outstanding job. They had a plan and they executed it." [Daily Racing Form]For Tampa, that’s now four consecutive years of solid growth, and this comes despite its refusal to provide its signal to many offshore rebate shops. I’ve never been there, but I’ve been told that it’s kinda like what Gulfstream used to be – a nice place to hang out on a sunny Florida day.
Hegarty also reports that racing companies such as Churchill, Keeneland, and NYRA are quietly raising their fees for their simulcast signals. I say ‘quietly’ because the details seem to be guarded as closely as the National Security Agency – you know, those guys compiling a database of all of your phone calls – is protecting itself from the Justice Department's attempted investigation into its warrantless snooping.
Racetracks have been ridiculed for practically giving away their signals, which limits their own profitability and creates a large enough spread between the takeout rate and the simulcast fee so that the shops can not only offer rebates, but offer ones large enough so that NYRA’s new rewards program can’t even compete with them percentage-wise. These comments by a rebate shop owner who agreed to increases he called “very big” say it all:
"I'll be honest - their signals, especially Keeneland's, were so underpriced it was ridiculous….Those guys are doing all the work, paying all the bills, and guys like me are making a lot of money off them. What they're charging now is what they should be getting." [DRF]- Dick Jerardi of the Philly Daily News has a great piece today about Barbaro, who is chilling out on the farm at Fair Hill, a training center about an hour north of Pimlico. The Derby champ seems to come out of the race well.
Barbaro showed no stiffness when he began to gallop. He looked about as smooth as he did in Kentucky when everybody there could not say enough good things about how Barbaro was taking to his training. You never know for sure until the next race, but Barbaro seems as good as he was prior to the Derby. Matz was looking for a few specific things yesterday.Barbaro will likely not have a timed workout for the Preakness, and neither will the two horses considered to be his main threats at Pimlico.
"He obviously wasn't nervous," Matz said. "He looked like he was jogging real good and sound. He seemed relaxed out there. He's eating good so those are all good signs. We took a blood [sample] the other day and the blood was real good. I think he did what he had to do in the race. No race is an easy one, but I think he made it as easy as he possibly could, running a mile and a quarter. So we'll just try to build him back up for the next race."
"I won't work him," Hendricks said of Brother Derek. "I'll just give him a very strong gallop on Wednesday before we leave. He's always worked very lightly before his races. He bounced out of the race great, as good as any of his other races, and this may have been the best race he's ever run, considering the post and the trip he had."Besides the top three, you have Like Now, Bernardini, and Hemingway’s Key as definite starters. Baffert is still wavering on Bob and John (a "horrible trip from the start”) and Point Determined (“didn't like Churchill”). It seemed obvious, at least in retrospect, that Point Determined didn't like the track based on his timid gallops over it after arriving from California.
[Michael Trombetta on Sweetnorthernsaint:] "I opted to go without a work and take a fresh horse over there. He jogged the last two days, and we'll get some nice gallops in. Next Saturday is going to creep up quickly. We'll ship to Pimlico Saturday morning. We're only 20 miles away, Laurel is home, and there's no need to disrupt the horse's routine. It's nice and quiet here." [Bloodhorse]
- The California State Senate has passed, by a vote of 31-4, a bill that would require tracks to install Polytrack by the end of 2007. The California Horse Racing Board has endorsed the switch too, but doesn’t want the state to be dictating a time frame.
"We want to be absolutely sure in all ways," [CHRB chairman Richard Shapiro] said. "The environment, our climate, what's best for jockeys, respiratory issues ... we want to be sure that what we install is something that will work here.
"If, say, Golden Gate and Del Mar want to go ahead and the other tracks want to see how that goes before moving forward, I am receptive to that. We want a time line that is prudent."
At the same time, he noted that statistics from Kentucky's Turfway Park, where Polytrack has been installed, "have been staggeringly positive for horses' health." [Bloodhorse]