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Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Morning Notes - Nov 17

- If public comments from the NY politicians who will ultimately decide on the racing franchise are any indication, NYRA's chances are not very good. Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer has made his feelings about the association quite clear; and now Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno told the Troy Record:

"Personally, I believe a for-profit has the greatest chance of succeeding in providing the best racing, to provide the destination center for people and families," he said. "It is an extremely competitive world, and they compete against everything that takes place in the universe to bring people in."
- Business at Yonkers' racino has been so robust that $1.5 million is already in the purse account as racing commences tonight. With the Meadowlands also getting underway, and racing ongoing at Freehold (NJ), Monticello (NY), and Chester Downs (PA), there may not be enough horses to go around.
When tracks were dropping like flies during the '80s and '90s, breeding and ownership decreased significantly, but now with new tracks opening in the VLT era, there simply will not be enough horses to go around. "There are much fewer horses now than there were in the past and it's just going to be exacerbated by fewer horses and more race tracks," [Meadowlands VP Dennis] Dowd said. "The numbers just don't work." [NY Daily News]
Seems like a good time to get into the standardbred business.

Mohegan Sun officials reported that some 16,000 people came through the turnstiles on Tuesday, opening day of the racino at Pocono Downs, and in two days of operation, gamblers wagered more than $12 million and lost $1.26 million.
State officials, with their 55 percent tax on slots revenue, pocketed nearly $693,000 to use for property tax relief, aid to municipalities and help for the state's horse racing industry. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
12% of the state's share goes towards racing.

- Deep Impact has been disqualified from his third place finish in the Arc for a banned medication.
With the disqualification, fourth-place finisher Hurricane Run (Ire) has been awarded third place, which carried $289,888 from the Arc's total purse of $2,536,200. [Thoroughbred Times]
Deep Impact will make what will likely be his final start when he meets Ouija Board and Heart's Cry in the Japan Cup on Nov 26. Wow.

- Bernardini will likely win the Eclipse for the top three-year old despite a growing sentiment in favor of Barbaro. But if he does, it will be without the vote of the Star-Telegram's Gary West, who writes: Bernardini's premature retirement represents a perversion of values and yet another insult to the sport and its fans.
Many owners, of course, try to explain the premature retirement of their horses by citing the insurance costs of racing or the irresistible profits of breeding. Some say their horse "has nothing left to prove," which has the unmistakably hollow ring of nonsense, and the more creative tend to discover some compromising ailment, which always arouses suspicion.

But rationalizations soon appear silly when dressed up to look like explanations. And the true reason for most premature retirements remains greed, specifically the subordination of the sport, its fans and even the horse to profit.

But can profit be the motive here? Or could it be that the most prominent horse owner in the world is simply more focused on breeding than racing?

Neither attitude deserves encouragement. And so the flimflam artist doesn't deserve my vote. [Dallas-Ft Worth Star Telegram]

6 Comments:

Pete from Gowanus said...

That is suddenly an interesting question: Bernie v Barbaro. I think we have to put our bad feelings about the absurd early retirement aside and agree that the preakness, dandy and travers (not to mention a 2nd with an excuse in the BC Classic) are worth more than Fla Derby and Ky Derby, right? If Bernardini had been stuffed in the Classic, there'd be a more interesting argument imo.

Believe me, part of me wants to reward the good guys and punish the sheikh by voting for Barbaro but it just doesn't feel quite right.

BTW, kudos to my man Larry Colmus, who got the Gulfstream job. Well deserved. . .

And Alan, did you see this insane story about the batch bettor that Hegarty wrote up in the form? Crazy stuff.

Oh, and I wish there were betting on the Colonial Cup Sunday. Cool race.

Handride said...

where was this guy when AA and Smarty were prematurely retired due to some doctors reports. I still think it's easier to point the finger at the "Arabs" than the rest, and that just isn't cool

alan said...

Patrick -

I did a little Googling and found an article that West wrote in January 2005, and he said:

The Eclipse Award finalists will be announced Wednesday and the winners Jan. 24. The Eclipse Awards, of course, represent horse racing's championships. But they also represent an opportunity to discourage the cowering opportunism and the premature retirements that have compromised competition, as well as the sport's popularity, in recent years.

That's one reason Declan's Moon didn't get the vote as champion 2-year-old from this corner. And it's why this vote didn't go to Pico Central as champion sprinter, or to Sightseek as champion mare or to Smarty Jones as Horse of the Year.


But it's certainly a fair point to question whether it's appropriate to use your Eclipse vote this way.

Anonymous said...

I notice he did not deny Smarty his 3yo Eclipse, only the horse of the year vote.

The award should go to the best horse in each division, a horse's accomplishments should not be shorted due to the behavior of its owner.

Of course, given the choice the horse would probably opt for retirement also :).

Green Mtn Punter said...

Would it make any difference if the Ad Hoc Committee came in with a positive recommendation for NYRA's bid? If you had to speculate at this point, Empire would almost certainly have to be considered the favorite in the big race. Will be interesting to see if NYRA has any closing kick in the stretch. Release of the Committee's recommendation has been delayed several times- is there any new release date?

alan said...

No new release date that I've seen. The original deadline was such a joke, and such an obvious attempt to give Pataki some sway - which he probably ultimately wouldn't have had anyway. And no, I don't think that a nod for NYRA from the Committee would matter much in the end.