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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

News and Notes - May 10

- Things may be bad at other racinos in the state, but expansion is underway at Saratoga Harness, and a new building housing more slots and a nightclub is scheduled to open on May 25. Save the date for an appearance by KC & the Sunshine Band on July 12.

- Citing the decrease in all-sources handle for Derby day, Youbet CEO Charles Champion took the opportunity to take another dig at Churchill and TrackNet Media.

Champion said a drop in all-source wagering on the Derby card tells a big story, noting that last year’s combined $12.5 million handled by Youbet, its off-shore outlet International Racing Group, and TVG Network represented a 7% hole that couldn’t be filled.

“This year, the Derby attracted its biggest TV ratings in 15 years, but somehow, the industry managed to take a 5% increase in audience and turn it into a 4.1% decrease in handle,” he said.

“This blemish on our business, and this dent in our collective pocketbooks, could have been avoided. Had TVG, Youbet and IRG carried the races . . . the industry could have been heralding a new high point in its distribution methods as well as its fan interest.” [Bloodhorse]
Champion also contends that the industry lost business to offshore wagering outlets. Churchill responded that their bottom line was almost even, because the business they gave up was at lower host fees than that obtained this year.
For Oaks and Derby, last year’s fee – when all are taken together – was 5.49 percent, compared to 8.25 percent this year, a 50 percent increase, he said.

That means that even with the loss of $5 million or more in account wagering handle, track revenues and the amount provided for purses decreased $10,599 each from the two days, he said. [Louisville Courier-Journal]
And while none of us, except I guess Churchill shareholders, could give a rat's ass about Churchill's bottom line, the point that tracks should be receiving more for their signals is a fair one that most industry observers would agree on.

- I was reading the lead story in the NY Times this morning, headlined Doctors Reaping Millions For Use of Anemia Drugs (linked here via the Wilmington, NC StarNews, no registration required), and I ran into some very familiar names. Aranesp.....Epogen.....EPO's. Yes, the very same blood-doping agents that seem to be the current fashion in hard-to-detect drugs being used by dishonest trainers. Aranesp was at the center of the Eric Ledford scandal at the Meadowlands, since swept under the rug with some lame plea bargains.

According to the article, unscrupulous trainers are not the only ones profiting from the drugs. Some doctors are receiving windfalls in rebates offered by manufacturers Amgen and Johnson and Johnson, who are in fierce competition with each other in the lucrative market for anemia drugs.
...Documents given to The New York Times show that at just one practice in the Pacific Northwest, a group of six cancer doctors received $2.7 million from Amgen for prescribing $9 million worth of its drugs last year.
I won't go into further detail about the article, which is mostly off-topic, and you can read it for yourselves if interested. But it's worth pointing out here that many patients are receiving higher doses than some feel are necessary, and that several studies suggested that the drugs can shorten patients’ lives when used at high doses.

Here's one report of a dead horse found at the Ledford barn in New Jersey. And in this post from last year, I reported via a now-dead link that two more were discovered in their Illinois barn. So let's just say that if the drugs are considered to be dangerous in people, they are certainly the same in horses.

1 Comment:

Jim L said...


Someone should launch a new blog, devoting it to "forget Churchill Downs Inc."

They have done a major disservice to racing in the past few weeks. First, the added Derby "prize" if the winning horse beats Barbaro's lengths beaten margin. Then, the account wagering issues which effectively lost handle on the entire card. Thirdly, today, they fail to list real-time odds and have a page display "no live racing today."