All four bidders - NYRA, Capital Play, Empire Racing and Excelsior, will be invited to present their proposals (AGAIN). [NY Daily News]Scheduled for the second week in October, this latest circus will be the third of a series of announced hearings to be conducted by the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee, chaired by Republican Senator Bill Larkin. Its purpose is to "explore the selection of the most optimum business model for the state racing franchise." But if the Senator really wanted to achieve that objective, instead of wasting time with yet another round of presentations, he would be conducting a hearing to explore the folding of OTB into the track operation. Without that particular optimum business model, Bill Gates couldn't run the franchise successfully here.
I love this reporting in Newsday today: Another company manages the Kentucky Derby, America's premier horse race. The clueless reporter is referring to, of course, Empire Racing, of which Churchill Downs is a 6% partner. Well then, why doesn't he write, of Empire, that 'Another company is losing millions of dollars and is presently seeking to sell off several racetracks?' I think it was the inclusion of Magna that first turned me against Empire. It showed arrogance - NOT having Magna involved was the one thing that everyone connected to the game here, except for maybe Joe Bruno, seemed to agree upon when the process was in its formative stages - and stupidity, for not taking into account the bad PR that it inevitably caused, especially when it issued statements taking NYRA into account for its poor financial performance. Arrogance and stupidity are not qualities we want to see in the franchise operator....and, by the way, are traits that NYRA has not been totally void of either.
Friends of New York, Tim Smith, Jared Abbruzzese, its proposed greedy takeout increases, and the Thacher report (which, for any of its faults, has still not had a single substantive claim disputed) aside, the presence of Magna alone is a good enough reason to hope that Empire goes away empty handed. And while they may only have a 6% stake, they and Churchill stand to control the simulcast signal via TrackNet Media and eventually reap 50% of the revenue from it. Is that something that anyone would really like to see?
Meanwhile, Newsday also reports that: A spokeswoman for the other company bidding, Excelsior Racing Associates, said it had no comment. And when is the last time we've heard from them? Excelsior seemed to have lost all their drive after the Steinbrenners split, didn't they? Their website hasn't been updated since April, and their public statements have been sparse. When's the last time we heard from Jerry Bailey on their behalf? Perhaps Richard Fields is keeping a low profile with respect to his connections to Spitzer. But for whatever reason, I don't get any sense of enthusiasm from them, and get the feeling that somebody there is going "Oh shit, we have to do this crap again?"
- The story on Bloodhorse.com about the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission conducting a study of whether synthetic-surface racing has an impact on horses’ bronchial systems is the first one I've heard of, and something that is long overdue. But how about one for the jockeys too? Michael Dickinson, the inventor of the Tapeta surface in use at Presque Isle Downs, produced a report on exposure of horses and riders to “respirable” fibers, which found no “potentially harmful exposures.” However, it's impossible to determine any possible long-term damage at this time.
Super Frolic suffered a fatal injury while running in the Presque Isle Mile Stakes over the weekend, and I believe that's the second such incident during the meeting thus far. The Bloodhorse article presents an interesting theory that some breakdowns on synthetic surfaces could be a result of trainers racing sore horses on them in the hope that they will be magically cured. Dickinson said:
“We’ve seen that. Horses have arrived sore, and trainers have remarked that after two weeks, the horses are moving much better. However, certain injuries can only be cured by surgery or rest.”