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Monday, January 22, 2007

Oaklawn Park's A Secret Here

- Oaklawn Park opened on Friday, but you wouldn't know it around these parts; at least if you don't have Dish Network. Didn't see any Oaklawn races on TVG this weekend - the last I read, the sides were in discussion . Sunland and Turf Paradise were on instead, and the latter was cancelled on Sunday. Thus, HRTV has Gulfstream, Santa Anita, and Oaklawn, giving them a near-monopoly on significant winter racing.

And, rather surprisingly and distressingly, the track wasn't even on the simulcast menu at the Big A, as it's been as long as I recall. NYRA opted instead for Tampa Bay Downs. Fortunately, we still have the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and the excellent local coverage of the meeting by Robert Yates. While the track may have become a secret around here, Friday's off-track handle of $ 3,115,501 was a 19. 9 percent increase over the first day last year; that despite no major cancellations elsewhere. “We were all scratching our heads,” [Director of gaming and wagering Bobby] Geiger said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”

Steppenwolfer is scheduled to make his return there in the Essex on Feb 10; and Wayne Lukas is planning on starting Pegasus Wind in the $ 250, 000 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 19.