- Latent Heat was the 10th stakes winner of the year for Maria's Mon; and that includes Eclipse contender Wait A While, and graded stakes winners Strong Contender, Gaff, Cause To Believe, and High Limit. Thus, this stallion son of Wavering Monarch will be a far more expensive date in 2007; his stud fee, which dropped from $35,000 to $25,000 this year, is now going directly up to $60,000 without passing go or stop or anything else. In a post back in February about Maria's Mon getting off to a good start in 2006, I noted the prior drop in his fee and wrote: I imagine it will go back up next year if he continues to get these results throughout the year. Just thought I'd point that out.
High Limit himself will take up stud duty in 2007; he'll stand at Cloverleaf Farm in Florida for $6,500.
- Australia's Capital Play refuses to walk away from the New York franchise race. The group was dq'd for failing to post a bond, but they are touting their $1.8 billion plan directly to legislators. Their proposal includes a novel plan to allow OTB to handle all wagers, both on and off-track, and building corporate boxes as well as hotels and Belmont and Aqueduct. And then there's the cash: $225 million to invest in each downstate track, $110 million to fully cover NYRA's pension obligations, and annual payments to the state of $850 million over the 20 year life of the franchise.
Wow. Recently, in response to Empire's statement that they would bump up their financial proposals, a reader questioned whether this process was becoming strictly an auction. I suppose that we'll find out if that's the case from the reaction to these proposals, both from the state, and from the competing bidders. One of the main themes we've heard throughout the process is that the franchise holder should have connections to the state in which they'll be holding the franchise. Empire initially made that their main appeal, especially having the horsemen in their corner; but lately they've been forced to defend the presence of disparate interests amongst their investors. Excelsior emphasizes their connection to the Yankees. And we've heard from members of the Ad Hoc Committee and from politicians that they would prefer a group with local ties.
But if the Australian group is allowed back into the hunt based on their lucrative offer, that would surely show that the bottom line is indeed the bottom line. And if the other bidders are permitted to increase their offers in response, then they might as well just hire Fasig Tipton and auction the franchise off in the sales ring in Saratoga. "C'mon folks, it's a beauty. You won't find anything else like it for the next 20 years..."
- Capital Play's CEO Karl O'Farrell claims that Australian racing has done a "rebounding of racing focusing on 18- to 34-year-olds."
He said the group would follow the "Australian model" that makes going to the track a social event, now the case only at Saratoga during its short summer season.Well, I'm not really thinking that the Big A should be a place of beauty. There's certainly a place and time for that - spring at Belmont, summer in Saratoga - but I think we all need our hardcore grimy city track once in a while, don't we? I don't think we'd fully appreciate the grandeur of Saratoga if we didn't trudge through seven months of Queens. Besides, unless they're proposing to hoist Aqueduct up onto a couple of trailers and transport it somewhere, I'm thinking that the setting just isn't conducive. Richard Migliore spoke to the Daily Racing Form about one of the differences between the Big A and Santa Anita:
"You should go to a race track and think, `This is a place of beauty,"' he said. [AP]
"I love New York racing.....It's been great to me. But it's hard to get up every morning and drive down the Belt Parkway to Ozone Park. You're not going to see any beautiful sunrises, like at Santa Anita. You're just hoping to miss sleet and snow."- Fleet Indian, recovering from surgery after being hurt in the Distaff, will make an expensive visit to the court of Storm Cat, and you can see the hypo mating here (pdf); and that's now a free feature on Bloodhorse's Stallion Register site.