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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Good to be Green

- Thanks to the reader who sent in this Green Monkey photo. And how appropriate given the recent news that everybody's favorite $16 million equine is soon to resume training.

“He is at Ashford Stud (Coolmore’s Kentucky division) recovering from a muscle injury; we’re hoping he’ll go back in training with Todd Pletcher in a few weeks,” said a Coolmore spokesman. [Bloodhorse]
Too late for the Classics of course, but I'm sure we could get, what, around 20-1 in Vegas for the Classic?

- Here in New York, Excelsior Racing has lost a key player in Howard Wolfson, their sharp-tongued spokesperson who has taken a leave of absence from the PR firm Glover Park to form a new agency. Called Gotham Acme, it will be 100% devoted to furthering the presidential ambitions of Hilary Clinton, which will be a full-time endeavor to be sure. As we've noted before, Wolfson has been one of her most senior advisors. With the calculated mechanism of the RFP process and its precise points system having given way to what promises to be a political and public relations free-for-all, Wolfson's ample talents will certainly be missed.

And rumor has it that NYRA's VP Bill Nader may be leaving the embattled association to go work for the Hong Kong Racing Association! If that's true, is his decision to leave at a time when things seem to be looking up for NYRA something we should consider in trying to handicap the franchise race?

Tom Precious reports in Bloodhorse that the six current bidders have been notified that they have until March 31 to submit their proposals. NYRA, Empire, and Excelsior are not required to submit anything in writing, unless they wish to amend their bids, which you can be 100% sure they will indeed be doing. The letter to the groups, signed by Richard Rifkin, special counsel to Gov. Eliot Spitzer, said the governor expects to make a decision on his choice for the franchise on or about May 25.

- Here's another indication of the potential problems looming for the industry as slots and casinos proliferate, especially in the Northeast. Empire Resorts, owner of Monticello Raceway, is still losing money despite its racino. In the fourth quarter, revenue from the video gaming machines fell by $400,000, or 2 percent, because of competition from Yonkers and Pennsylvania casinos. Empire is counting on a full-fledged Indian casino to bail it out.

On the flip side, consider the Fair Grounds, where purses have been boosted by a whopping 25% for non-stakes over the last two weeks of the meeting. And this is all from increased business on the racing side, as the racino has not yet been built.
The Fair Grounds, owned by Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc., said the latest increase is because of better-than-expected business at the track and its eight off-track betting facilities in southeastern Louisiana, along with record handles for the Louisiana Derby card last Saturday. [AP]


Anonymous said...

So a for-profit run racetrack has been able to raise its purses without a racino. And today NYRA, that non-profit stalwart, ran not one but two state-bred maiden races that went in 1:16 and change for 6 furlongs (not six and a half)over a track labeled as fast. Thank goodness the weather forecast is so ominous for tomorrow that they canceled racing. The non-weekend cards have been embarrasing.

Alan Mann said...

It's actually their third increase of the meeting. They started at a higher level too, because business has been booming at the OTB's ever since they reopened after Katrina. If I'm not mistaken, it's the action at the OTBs that have been the main driver of the higher purses. That's what happens when OTB's are working with rather against the tracks' interests. So I don't know that this is a fair comparison.

But I certainly agree about the winter racing this year. I don't know what was up with that track today. Besides the races you mentioned, in the 4th race they went 1:43.2 for a mile! (not a mile and 70 yards (that went in 1:47); not a mile and a sixteenth). And these were winners!

Check it out (pdf).

Anonymous said...

It's official. Nadar to the Hong Kong Jockey Club effective April 23.

Press release on thier web

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the Classic, but Bally's is still listing The Green Monkey @ 40/1 to win the Derby.

Green Mtn Punter said...

So,June 1 is D Day, eh? At least we now have a "closing" date for this circus. Not good news for Excelsior in losing Howard Wolfson- I don't get it, Hillary is a sure loser, and Excelsior still has a good shot at winning, perhaps still the best odds, so I don't think much of Howard's handicapping skills. Still haven't heard much about Steve Wynn's entry into the race, obviously the most intriguing development of late. He must be playing to win, he doesn't play any other way, but what can the Vegas casino king do for NY thoroughbred racing? Will we have to wait for the public hearings on April 10-11 to find out?