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Monday, July 09, 2007

News and Notes - July 9

- The Times ran an editorial on the franchise situation on Sunday, and, as Jessica pointed out over at Railbird, its placement in an obscure section of the paper means it will have little impact with its misplaced innuendo and alarmist conclusion; namely that the Inspector General's report reminds us that the industry requires vigilant oversight and iron control. That's the same simplistic conclusion that Governor Spitzer drew from the report. To show you just how ignorant the editorial was, it makes no mention of Richard Fields when listing those in Excelsior who are connected to the Governor.

One thing it got right however is that Empire Racing Associates comes out the worst of the companies examined in the report. One might think that they would just go away now that they can no longer claim the support of the horsemen, and since the I.G.'s report exposes the degree to which they are beholden to Churchill and Magna, and raises serious questions about the intent of the supposedly non-partisan Friends of New York that preceded Empire. But I'm sure that won't be the case as long as there's slots money on the table.

Empire's chairman Jeffrey Tucker is in the news today, but for a different reason. His Stonebridge Farm became the first facility in the state to have Polytrack.

One place which could use the synthetic surface is Calder. The track has made a concerted, and successful effort to promote and stage big events, but it seems as if their big days are always marred by rain. This past Saturday's Summit of Speed was the latest victim, with much of it conducted on a sloppy, sealed mess, including three stakes originally scheduled for the turf, yuck. The track was thankfully harrowed out and declared 'good' for the last three races, the most notable on the card. Still, Greg Gilchrist said of Smokey Stover's disappointing third: "I don't think the horse really handled the racetrack well." [SF] Both he and Fabulous Strike fell far short of the local horse Mach Ride. This four-year old son of Pentelicus is now two-for-two with blinkers on.

- Curlin and Tiz Wonderful worked six furlongs in company, in 1:12 4/5. Steve Asmussen said:

"Scott (assistant trainer Scott Blasi) said it was time for Tiz Wonderful to step out of the kiddie pool. He stayed on (with Curlin) and galloped out good. Of course he had to work harder, but that’s where he’s at." [Bloodhorse]
Curlin is prepping for the Haskell, Tiz Wonderful for the Jim Dandy.

Hard Spun is also back on the track; he worked five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 at Delaware. Mario Pino will be back in the saddle for his next start, wherever that might be.
"I had a discussion with Mr. Porter and he said it's OK with him to have Mario back on the horse," [trainer Larry] Jones said. "So, I have given Mr. Pino certain dates to keep open. I feel good about this decision. It keeps everything on our team. Mario is part of our team and it's good to have him back." [Delaware Online]
Though the Haskell remains a possibility, Jones may take a cue from Teuflesberg, second in the Carry Back at Calder on Saturday.
"Teuflesberg went in a 7/8th-mile stake and wins it [the Woody Stephens at Belmont]," Jones said. "Stormello is another horse that was in that race. I think Hard Spun could do that as well. That's why we can look at the [seven-furlong] King's Bishop [on Aug. 25] at Saratoga."


Anonymous said...

Jones should get Hard Spun on the turf ASAP.

He will make a great miler on the grass if they do not totally ruin him by knocking heads with the top horses on the wrong surface.

Anonymous said...

if there was ever a track that DOES NOT need the Poly Track its Calder Race Course.

Anonymous said...

On the contrary; Calder has desperately, desperately, desperately needed an overhaul of their dirt surface for 20+ years. I've long been curious as to just why times over a fast Calder surface tend to be considerably slower than races of equal class and quality. If the Summit Of Speed's dirt races were run anywhere else, they'd be I suspect about 1-2 seconds faster than over that confounding surface. It could be entirely possible that Polytrack could make Calder an equal on the racing scene year-round (should be noted that weather doesn't seem to matter, times are as slow in December as July).

Maybe it's just me as a fan of the sport (not a hardcore gambler/owner), but I equate Calder's times and the dusty, slow track to inferior product, even if some of the horses might eventually be pretty good.