- You were a winner on Friday if you went with the old Pletcher first-out in maiden claimers angle. Actually, one might be wary seeing a stable of his stature starting one of their firsters in a claiming race, especially one which sold for $130,000 as a juvenile a year ago.
Pletcher doesn't start many this way, but with the convincing win by Fate Takes a Hand, running for $75,000 in the Friday's 7th at Gulfstream, he's now won with four of 11 such runners over the last two years. And one outfit that was not at all wary was Prime Time Stable; they put in a claim for the son of Tale of the Cat via trainer Timothy Ritvo. It was Pletcher's third winner in two days, after having just three prior since his return.
- Lava Man worked six furlong in 1:12.20 over the Cushion Track, preparing for next Saturday's Big Cap at Santa Anita. He will carry the high weight, to be specifically determined this week. O'Neill said on Friday that he predicts Lava Man will be assigned 123 pounds. "I've done a little politicking.." [Daily Racing Form] He also told the paper that the $5 million Dubai Duty Free on the turf is still a possibility. Personally, I'd like to see the horse win in Kentucky or New York before they try shipping him to Dubai. But I'm also being a little selfish, as I'd really just like to see the horse stay fit and race throughout the year, something that's not guaranteed for those who take the trip.
- Liquor Cabinet, dominant in earning a 113 Beyer in the Aqueduct Handicap, is pointing to the New Orleans Handicap on March 10 at the Fair Grounds, a race for which I've seen Pletcher's Master Command, and the returning High Limit mentioned for as well.
- Street Sense worked a half mile in 49.20 this morning at Palm Meadows.
- The House of Representatives in Indiana has approved the installation of 2500 VLT's at Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs. The bill will now go to the Senate, where the Republican President Pro Tem has said he would like the bill to have a hearing..[Associated Press]
While passage is far from certain, I wonder how Churchill feels about their decision to sell Hoosier Park now.
But in neighboring Illinois, where there are no slots in sight, Hawthorne opened on Friday, and its president Tim Carey sounded the familiar refrain of the have-nots.
''In order to compete on a level playing field, the Illinois racing industry must have slot machines....We used to compete only with each other for racing dates. Now we compete with casinos and other racing jurisdictions with casinos. [Chicago Sun Times]And ditto in Maryland, where the long-feared spectre of slots in Pennsylvania has become a reality, not to mention the possibility of table games in West Virginia.
"Come 2008, without slots or some sort of subsidy, our landscape will change even more dramatically," [Maryland Jockey Club president Lou Raffeto Jr.] said. "We cannot maintain that $200,000 [daily purse] level - at least not for anywhere close to the 184 days a year we've been running - because there simply is no more money. This is not some hollow threat." [Daily Racing Form]While Raffeto sweats over maintaining that $200,000 level, Philly Park president Hal Handel says that the bottom line for racing at Philadelphia Park potentially could be "purses of $450,000 to $500,000 a day, when it's all said and done."