- Stewards in Kentucky refused to comment on Wednesday's report in the Daily Racing Form that cobra venom was found in the barn of Patrick Biancone when it was searched on June 22. They would only acknowledge that a post-race test of one of his horses yielded a positive; but that a second sample has not yet been tested at a different lab for verification. According to the Form, the sample tested positive for a derivative of caffeine and for a derivative of an inhalant. Marty McGee writes in the Form that until Biancone is brought before the KHRA for a hearing, Biancone is free to run horses in Kentucky and elsewhere.
At the time of the search, he had about 75 horses spread among three barns at Keeneland. With racing at Churchill set to end Sunday, he soon will shift his main base of operations to Saratoga while also maintaining a string at Keeneland.Of course, any track has the right to ban people from their private property, as several tracks have done over the last few months to the jockeys implicated by the TRPB in a vague race-fixing scheme that we still have few details about. And again, without making any assumptions about Biancone's innocence or guilt, I don't understand how it's in the betting public's interest that his horses should be allowed to be entered to race at this point. I just don't get it.
- A comment by NYTHA president Richard Violette had caught my attention the other day. He was talking about the purse increases for Saratoga and the last three weeks of the Belmont meeting.
“It is good to see that the lines of communication between NYTHA and NYRA are open and the immediate results are purse increases which will benefit every segment of the thoroughbred racing community. ” [Glens Falls PostStar]The reason I found that notable is that the NYTHA hadn't had anything nice to say about NYRA ever since it hooked up with Empire. That was just not part of Empire's playbook. So in retrospect, that quote was an indication that the group was already on its way out from the group.
- I have to say that I sympathize with Joe Bruno when he said he was "outraged that the governor’s staff members moved so swiftly to refer the matter to investigators," with that matter being the taxpayer-financed trips to New York City reported by the Albany Times-Union. That was in the Sunday edition, and to wake up on Monday and already be reading statements by the governor's staff in the Times is pretty outrageous. It takes something pretty momentous to get a response from the government on a Sunday, and it seems as if the governor's staff is in a 24/7 attack mode that is bordering on childish.
The Associated Press on Tuesday produced several people, including a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who attested to meeting with Bruno on official state business during those trips, and accounting for all three.
The night of May 24, Bruno attended a fundraiser for himself, after being dropped off by state police at City Hall where he met with..Bloomberg. "It was about the city's legislative agenda in Albany," said Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Bloomberg, a Bruno ally and campaign contributor. "The meeting happened." [AP]And it's exactly that sequence of events, a mix of personal fundraising and state business, that would appear to make the trips legal.
An opinion issued in 1995 by the state Ethics Commission appears to also approve the use of state aircraft for travel that includes "political functions" as long as there was some legitimate state purpose, as Bruno maintains.Bruno is now accusing the Times Union of attempted extortion, claiming that an ad salesperson pressured him to buy ad space in return for more favorable coverage.
The newspaper’s publisher, Mark E. Aldam, said in a statement that the senator’s staff had mischaracterized the call. Mr. Aldam said the salesman had merely offered Mr. Bruno the chance to respond to a campaign advertisement taken out on the newspaper’s Web site by the state Democratic Party, attacking Mr. Bruno and Senate Republicans. [NY Times]But Bruno's office counters that there was never any mention of the Democrats' ads, and that the pitch was only "in the context of his newspaper’s negative coverage of the senator.” Bruno has canceled his subscription to the newspaper.