- John Ward seems to have a full deck of three-year old prospects for the second half of the year – Strong Contender will race in the Dwyer next week; Minister’s Bid was an impressive allowance winner at Belmont last Wednesday and is now two-for-two.. "Minister's Bid got a 118 speed rating on Equibase. I don't know that much about those figures, but I looked up the Kentucky Derby, and Barbaro got a 119. When I saw that I realized how hard a race that was.” [Bloodhorse]
But Ward told the Daily Racing Form that Dr. Pleasure, who is entered to make his second start of the year at Belmont on Wednesday, will turn out to be the best of his lot. "Three years from now, we'll look back on him as the best," Ward said. "He's smart, and he's never been able to display that like an older horse would."
His first race this season came at Keeneland and was a case of too much, too soon. He closely tracked the pace in a seven-furlong race and finished third as the 4-5 favorite.Dr. Pleasure could go in the Jim Dandy if he runs well on Wednesday.
"It was a race where he wasn't quite fit enough to do that," Ward said. "He came back pretty tired."
Todd Pletcher is resting Sunriver and Bluegrass Cat, but they will soon start to crank up for stakes in August. “[The Haskell] is one of the primary options for both horses, but right now, Bluegrass Cat is the more likely of the two to run in the Haskell." [Thoroughbred Times]
- A couple of follow-up notes to my prior post. Whywhywhy (Mr. Greeley) is standing stud at Gainesway for $7500. Juvenile Grade 1 Winner Ranked Above EMPIRE MAKER on the Experimental Free Handicap! proclaims the blurb on his Stallion Register page. That’s probably because Empire Maker only raced twice at two, winning a maiden race and running third in the Remsen, to Toccet, while Whywhywhy was more precocious, running five times and winning three graded stakes, including the early season Flash. No mention, of course, of the fact that the colt was a flop at three, with a lone third place finish from four starts.
And I mentioned FEMA in passing, and the NY Times has a new piece on the front page today (free registration required, or try www.bugmenot.com) about the “Breathtaking” fraud that took place in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, calling it: one of the most extraordinary displays of scams, schemes and stupefying bureaucratic bungles in modern history, costing taxpayers up to $2 billion.
A hotel owner in Sugar Land, Tex., has been charged with submitting $232,000 in bills for phantom victims. And roughly 1,100 prison inmates across the Gulf Coast apparently collected more than $10 million in rental and disaster-relief assistance.On a rare bright note, the Times reported yesterday that tax revenues in Louisiana are projected to reach record levels this year, providing a much-needed boost in the state’s coffers. The boon is attributed mostly to sales taxes on goods purchased as replacements for those lost to the flooding. However, there was another, more unexpected factor.
There are the bureaucrats who ordered nearly half a billion dollars worth of mobile homes that are still empty, and renovations for a shelter at a former Alabama Army base that cost about $416,000 per evacuee.
And there is the Illinois woman who tried to collect federal benefits by claiming she watched her two daughters drown in the rising New Orleans waters. In fact, prosecutors say, the children did not exist.
James A. Richardson, a professor of economics at Louisiana State University, said one of the biggest surprises had been how strong gambling revenue had been. At riverboat casinos, state data show, there have been fewer gamblers, but they have lost far more money ($22 million more in April this year than in the previous April).There’s a captive audience for you I guess. And it’s not the first time we’ve read about this phenomenon there; there was a steady stream of reports late last year of booming business at Fair Grounds’ OTB operations that reopened last October; enough, in fact, for Churchill Downs to have increased purses at last year’s Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs to an average of approximately $370,000 per day, the largest ever for a meet in Louisiana. I guess this is a reminder that gambling is one of the vices that people sometimes turn to in times of despair. Or when they’re shamelessly ripping off the government (and the rest of us) for aid money.
Some Louisianans may have pumped their federal aid into video poker machines and slots. But Professor Richardson said he thought much of the gambling was done by out-of-state workers who flocked to the Gulf Coast after the hurricanes.
"You couldn't go to a restaurant without running into an insurance adjuster," he said, "and there were not many things for them to do in their spare time." [NY Times]