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Thursday, December 28, 2006

News and Notes - Dec 28

- 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.

"You should go to a race track and think, `This is a place of beauty,"' he said. [AP]
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:
"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.

8 Comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the major complaints about NYRA was their lack of respect for federal and state laws and regulations. Capital Play couldn't even get their bid submitted right (three other bidders were able to propoerly navigate the RFP language).

Wouldn't allowing them back in be a step backwards?

Late Scratch said...

Here's what I find disconcerting. At my local weekly support group meeting last night (okay, poker game), a scientific (?) poll showed only three of eight participants had an opinion (or cared enough to formulate one) on the NY franchise business. One said he thought strongly that NYRA would prevail since they owned the land. The second said no way, that NYRA was history because of their history and the third (me) said how can anyone really form an informed opinion (altho I do have my own) without knowing what was in those pesky proposals?

And that 's what's disconcerting. Where is the hue and cry for the release of the proposals, including the Capital Play one at this point. Let's see what they said before they knew the other guys' hands.

By my reckoning, the Barret group folds in 3 days - they go out of business. Their report, along with the proposals, should be made public as soon as it delivered to the PTBs.

As for my opinion, I'm glad the Aussies are in it because it will reveal just what we are dealing with here. Was it Churchill's story that ended with, "We have already established that madam - we are merely negotiating the price?"

PS Alan - Those word verifications are geting fnukier and funkier.

alan said...

>>PS Alan - Those word verifications are geting fnukier and funkier.


I disabled the word verification for about 15 minutes last week because I couldn't leave a comment on my own blog, and it took that long for a spammer to leave a plug for his penis enlargement site. I know it's a pain in the a**. I could switch to the moderation mode, but then your comments would have to wait until I have a chance to approve them.

Good point about the other bidders managing to follow the rules and meet all of the deadlines. Capital Play is blaming the mechanics involved in their being on the other side of the planet. But if they can't meet a simple time requirement, how can we be sure they can run racing properly?

And Late Scratch is right....why haven't we seen the proposals? I'm going to look into that a bit further.. I'm curious about your poker group...are they all racing fans that mostly don't have an opinion on this?

My word verification is 'tormp....

Green Mtn Punter said...

Alan, based on your posts over the past 6 months or so, I think you would agree with me that NYRA obviously has done a lousy job of countering the poor image created for it over the past 3 years by ambitious politicians, franchise competitors, others unfriendly, and their allies in the media. By contrast, the more we learn about the franchise competitors, the better NYRA looks by comparison, at least on the racing side, and perhaps this was Charlie Hayward's trump card all along? I also think that the "auction effect" was inevitable in the RFP process, that's the way RFP's work. I also believe that the legislature should, will hold public hearings on the franchise award so all the facts can be put on the table and the principals put under the bright lights- "Who are these guys?"

alan said...

NYRA hasn't really made any attempt to counter their poor image. Here's an organization that was praised to the hilt by the federal monitor for their integrity and their unprecedented efforts to address issues such as illegal medication and offshore rebate shops. Yet everytime some new detail that would emerge about their finances - things that anyone who's been following the situation were well aware of - there would be a new round of outraged newspaper editorials and criticism by politicians. And of course, Empire got into the act too. Interesting that Excelsior was able to get the nod by the committee without saying one cross word directed at NYRA. Perhaps you're right and Hayward was waiting for the smoke to clear. Or maybe they just couldn't afford a slick PR agency.

Late Scratch said...

I think we may be giving NYRA too much credit. Among horsemen their arrogance is legendary but they are just not that smart. Witness the Detention Barn. Better the time, money and effort go into education and surveillance rather than taking horses six hours prior to race time from their familiar surroundings to the DB.

NYRA thinks it has all the cards and until the courts rule otherwise, they seem to have mucho leverage.

Alan - as for my poker group, I'd say only the three with opinions were horseplayers, the others just DG's. One of them said that NYRA was enjoying really big fields - the largest in the country. I offered another viewpoint, that if it weren't for the NY-bred races, they couldn't put on six cards a day with 6 entries each.

I do think it's super that Mr. Williams responded so quickly.

Superfecta said...

Interesting about Maria's Mon...I've always felt that Monarchos was under-rated and that Maria's Mon seems to be turning out a pretty versatile set of offspring in general.

Thanks for the link about the Aussie bid too - I'd missed most of the details since this whole NYRA thing is so convoluted. Speaking as an 18-34 year old (just!) racing fan, it doesn't sound like a bad strategy.

Green Mtn Punter said...

NYRA just can't get any credit based on the comments preceding. It would appear that Alan and yours truly are the only commenters on LATG who give NYRA any credit at all! When all is said and done, one thing we should all be able to agree on about NYRA is this: Despite the anachronistic straitjacket in which NYRA has been forced to operate, NYRA has presented the highest quality thoroughbred racing in North America, year in, and year out since it's inception 50 years ago. Can't help but wonder how things might have turned out had NYRA been operating with Big A VLT revenues 3 years ago as originally scheduled?
Why change horses in mid-stream when we all know that the solution lies in racing and wagering reform, not in throwing proven track management overboard. Disclaimer: I have no connection whatsoever with NYRA and am just a long-time NY racing fan.