- After a two-day shutdown, tracks in Massachussets should be reopen today after state legislators put aside their debate over gay marriage for a few minutes to pass a bill extending simulcasting for two years. Had they not gotten around to it, the tracks could have remained closed for a few weeks. One change authorized by the bill is to allow Suffolk to reduce the number of live races run from 1,100 to 900. Track owners had lobbied for the changes, with the industry facing a dropoff in interest in live racing amid fierce competition from casinos and other gambling venues. [Boston Herald]
- Here's a change for you - a racino that's losing money. Owner Jeff Gural of New York's upstate Vernon Downs harness track says that after paying 60% of revenue to the state, and 10% towards purses and breeding funds, the remaining 30% isn't enough, and he's losing a half million a month. The 777 machines were expected to produce $1 million a week in revenue; Gural told the Post Standard of Syracuse that last week's total revenues were about $690,000.
He also cites competition from the nearby Indian casino, Turning Stone, which pays no taxes at all. A spokesperson for the tribe responds: "That's a false statement....They have the advantages of horse racing, off-track betting and alcohol." Gural knew about the casino and the taxes when he invested in the track.
"I was told people would patronize us because of the fact that the money goes to pay taxes and education, and at Turning Stone the money goes to the tribe....That's not the case. People don't seem to care where the money goes."I can't imagine he really thought that gamblers would tap their benevolent side to make their casino choices. The fact is that Turning Stone, besides permitting smoking, is a full-blown casino, complete with roulette and blackjack and all that other good stuff. And Gural's complaints are no doubt a preview of what we'll hear from racino owners as more tribal casinos open throughout the region.
- As of last night, there's still no agreement allowing NY's OTB's to carry the Gulfstream signal. Florida horsemen, who have the power to withhold the signal, are seeking an increase in the fees from 2.55 to 2.85 percent.
- There seems to be a lot of excitement about Jazil running on Friday, and I'm not sure if it's about the horse himself, or just the novelty of the Belmont winner running before an intimate audience on the inner track at the Big A. After all, the horse is a plodder pure and simple who turned out to be best suited at a distance for which hardly any of our thoroughbreds are at all. Kiaran McLaughlin told the Albany Times-Union: "We're expecting Jazil to run very well....We know he will be running on late but if he doesn't win, it's not the end of the world. We're not going to retire him."
I would have absolutely no qualms in betting against him if there was any attractive alternative in the field. But there's not, really. It's a typical weak winter second level allowance which happens to have the Belmont winner in it. I could maybe mention Chief Speed, coming off a decent two-turn win against weaker. But why bother?