- NYRA shot back at Empire's ill-conceived press release on the attendance at Saratoga, the latest in a series of missteps by the group considered to be the favorite to wrest the New York franchise from the incumbant. The release has earned ridicule from, amongst others, ESPN.com's Bill Finley, who pointed out that perhaps no track in the nation has seen more severe declines in on-track attendance in recent years than Gulfstream Park, which is run by Magna Entertainment. Empire put themselves on the defensive ever since bringing Magna on board, with their history of mismanagment and the well-publicized debacle that is the new Gulfstream.
NYRA's Bill Nader pointed out that NYRA no longer gives out free passes which inflated attendance before 2005, and added:
'Even by Saratoga standards, this was an MVP season,' Nader said. 'There's no racetrack in North America that will come close to the kind of numbers that Saratoga put up.'NYRA will continue to emphasize their ability as a non-profit to maintain their lucrative purse structure.
Nader said that this year's average daily purses, the amount paid to horsemen, were a record $676,451. In addition, all-sources handle averaged $15.67 million, up from a year ago, while average on-track handle remained constant at $3.2 million. [Saratogian]
On Tuesday, the state's oversight board will meet regarding the balance of the $30 million bailout package that kept NYRA from going to bankruptcy court last December. They've only received $11 million of that, and without the balance, we could be headed to the brink again in December. The balance is tied to the VLT project that the state won't approve. It's becoming clear that there will be no VLT's at Aqueduct during NYRA's current reign, which expires at the end of 2007. Just do the math; it will take a year to build, and we're already in September, 2006, with no approval from the state in sight.
- Dubai World Cup winner Electrocutionist is dead of a heart attack, as At The Eight Pole was up early this morning to post the news.