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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saturday Morning Notes - Sept 8

- Wanted to clarify my recent post about the final total of fatal breakdowns during the Del Mar meeting. Those figures, six this year as opposed to 14 last year, were for the Polytrack only. There were four additional deaths on the grass each year, all during races according to Hank Wesch of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The totals, while better than last year, are certainly not insignificant, especially when you look at the safety record at Saratoga, where there were two at the recently concluded meet to the best of my knowledge.

However, there unfortunately has already been one fatality at the Belmont meeting; Find the Chestnut was euthanized on the track after the third race on opening day, and tough luck Joe Bravo suffered yet another injury - and another broken collarbone - as a result of the incident.

And there were also those complaints by the NY horsemen regarding the condition of all the New York tracks in the morning due to their being frequently sealed at night. We're waiting to hear what the resolution of that will be.

- Not long after floating the suggestion that Aqueduct be sold off and closed entirely, Governor Spitzer has now taken a fairly hard line against VLT's at Belmont, this according to Newsday.

"The State Legislature made it quite clear that they didn't want to expand the VLTs to Belmont Park," he said. "And while the door remains open in the long-term future, that does not appear to be any time soon."
As long as we have to have these things, I can't think of a better locale for slots than at Belmont. A typical crowd of only 4,386 showed up for opening day, and I've written many times of how the enormous plant seems so deserted and depressing with even twice, three times that amount. They could take half of the grandstand, lay down some carpets, stick in some machines and easily have the revenues flowing by the spring meeting, and the reduced space for racing fans would serve the place well. The only day that the entire grandstand is needed is Belmont day, and recently, a reader reasonably suggested that the infield could be set up to handle that overflow.

- Senator Bruno told his favorite newspaper that he paid for the flights provided for him by Jared Abbruzzese. But that's not the point according to the lobbying commission, at least as far as the latter goes.
The commission investigators found that Abbruzzese intended to provide the flights at no cost to the public officials, even though Bruno may eventually have paid for them from his campaign fund. [Albany Times Union]

- The reduced takeout on Ellis Park's Pick Four resulted in an increase in the average daily handle for that bet from $19,000 to $40,000. But the total handle dropped by 15%. Owner Ron Geary agreed to use TrackNet Media as part of his purchase agreement with Churchill. That obviously didn't work out given that group's dispute with TVG that left Ellis missing from that network and from Youbet. Geary said that he can renew with TrackNet for up to six years under the contract, and that he hasn't made a decision yet regarding next year. [Louisville Courier-Journal]

- Richard Schosberg and Linda Rice continued their roll with wins on opening day, albeit both at short prices; and Gary Sciacca added a second place finish in the finale to his third straight longshot bomb in the first. Sorry to disappoint you who have been coming here to find horses to throw out, but I didn't have time to do any picks for Saturday's card. But just so that you don't go away too disappointed, I'll mention that I think that Rutherienne will be severely tested from a bad post in the Garden City (so feel free to go ahead and single her). Besides a couple of tough domestic runners in Sharp Susan and Valbenny insider of her, there are three extremely sharp Euro runners. The most interesting to me of that trio is the rail filly Missvinski, coming off a game second to Darjina in the Group 1 Prix d'Astarte. This daughter of Stravinsky was purchased for a mere $8,000 as a weanling at Keeneland November in 2004, and has earned over $200,000 while winning four of ten starts in Europe. Her second in the Prix d'Astarte earned her a career best Racing Post Rating, which the Form is now using instead of the Timeform rating. So I guess you can throw that 12-14 point rule in comparing the Euro ratings to Beyers out the window. In any event, enjoy the races and have a great day.