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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Will Frank Be A Slots Wizard?

- I noted the improvements at Gulfstream in the last post, and took the opportunity to mock Frank Stronach, but maybe that wasn't fair in this particular case. Sure, he fucked up one of the truly greatest race tracks you ever could see. But give him credit where it's due, and he did address the saddling area, the lack of free grandstand seating, and lowered some seat prices; those were the three main complaints that I heard about Gulfstream last year. As I've said before, I don't think he's an evil guy and I think he means well. But we don't really want him in our state.

What I'm really interested in knowing is if there's anything in the slots room to indicate that it's actually located in a horse racing place. Bill Finley, writing on ESPN.com, listed that as one of the things he'd change if he could.

I will order that every racetrack that has a slots room also have a mutuel window in that area, television screens showing the races and, whenever possible, an unobstructed view of the racetrack. I've had it with racino managements who do everything possible to keep the slot players from even knowing that horse racing is going on somewhere else on the premises.
The two racinos I've seen are exactly as he describes; particularly that new slots building on the Yonkers grandstand that doesn't even have any windows. I'm interested to see what Stronach has done there, espeicially considering that he has those Horse Wizard machines he was trying to push. They sat in an empty room at Gulfstream last year, and Stronach was mocked for that, including perhaps by me if I recall correctly; but I actually think he has the right idea there. They look and sound like slot machines, but they're hooked right in to the betting pools. As stated on Magna's website: It also allows a new visitor to actually wager on real, live horse racing.
Horse Wizard represents one of the greatest tools to horse racing's future success. Horse Wizard can operate as a funnel that pulls people into our establishments and evolves them into true, loyal horse racing fans that frequent our businesses.
OK, well, maybe Frank is being a bit optimistically naive here for a change, but consider having these machines in a slots parlor that has a view of the track, and races on big screens with Larry Collmus' call booming over the din of the machines. Then you just might have something there in terms of exposing slot players to the races. It certainly would be more than what I've seen thus far. Which is nothing.

So, if anyone is down at Gulfstream, perhaps you can write in and let us know if there is any attempt to show the races in the parlors, and if the Horse Wizard machines are there.

- As I mentioned, it ain't a great opening day card, and reader Serena's Song correctly notes that they at least could have had some nice maiden races. There is a decent maiden race for newly-turned three year olds on the turf though. The morning line favorite in the 7th is Stan Hough's Holiday Trip, who missed by a neck to Pletcher's eventual stakes winner Twilight Meteor in his debut at Saratoga; and then ran second there to Pickapocket, who was a disappointment at 3-1 in the Trop Park Derby the other day.

Let's take a shot with Dug In. He's raced twice on the grass at Calder, missing by a head in his grass debut in October with what was called a very rough trip. In his last, on the turf, he again had a horrible trip. Already towards the back of the pack going into the turn, he was checked and carried four wide. He started to gain while wide on the second turn, but seemed to flatten out. However, he then came late down the center of the track, missing by only three lengths while finishing fifth in what was a race with some pretty nice horses. The winner, One of the Best, has already come back to beat an allowance field

Now he has another crummy post, but he picks up Johnny V. Looks worth a shot at or close to his 8-1 morning line.

- Dug In is by the Montbrook stallion Snuck In, out of a Gate Dancer half sister to the Met Mile winner Yankee Victor.

3 Comments:

Jim L said...

Alan,

You're right, Stronach is not needed in this state, though a NY based auto parts assembly plant would do upstate some good.

I'm compiling my own Winner's Book for GP and will do so once AQU starts back on the main. I plan to jazz it up a little with color, using that for the top three finishers. The font "Print Paddock" is what the DRF must use.

Are you aware Capital OTB offers their signal on their Web site? You can catch their weekend shows. I have some other sports sites stuff if you want it, just respond here in comments or send me an e-mail. I sent you one about 10 days and haven't heard back; don't know if you got it.

Late Scratch said...

Jim L said: "You're right, Stronach is not needed in this state..."

Far be it for me to defend Stronach, but it must be acknowledged that racetracks in the 21st century do not make money. A race meet here and there may show a profit, like the short, boutique Del Mar experience but overall they are money pits without slots. Especially in NY where you have to support year-round racing.

I'd rather see Magna with only a 6% stake and a chance to make the Triple Crown a seminal event than see them going in as a larger partner with another franchise holder and imposing their corporate will.

Getting off the soapbox, in today's 7th at GS, I'll go with the hot bug and Altama (Tagg-turf), tossing the last in the slop.

Anonymous said...

I thought the modus operandi for casinos, was no clocks, no windows, lots of sweetening pumped through the vents,etc.....
It does not seem illogical to assume that you really aren't going to convert any slots players to racing, so why not just try and optimize the wallet sucking and don't bother with the pretence of "conversion".
It seems to me that table gamers and poker players would be a better target for conversion anyway as they are a bit more "sophisticated" as a whole.

It still blows my mind that horsepeople were actually astute enought to convince legislators that they should host slots and get a cut. I keep waiting for the rug to get pulled out.
Personally, I wish for a world of growth by contraction,as other sports mull over from time to time. Far fewer tracks, a higher calibre of horses, a professional HD simulcast network, free detailed historical data and replays with world wide pools, and race cards with story lines that don't require a bet on to enjoy.... That darn Santa didn't deliver it though.... Mention contraction and many horsepeople get all up in arms, so perhaps I'm outvoted...Most horsepeople are just as interested in leaching owners as they are in high purses, so fewer tracks and fewer horses, means fewer owners means less day money... Sorry to take up your gracious pages, but I had to get that off my chest.

KH