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Friday, December 07, 2007

Discreet Picks

- is a subscriber-only selection site. OK, a paid tout site if you wanna put it that way. I wouldn't generally tout a tout site here. But the proprietor, who goes by the name of DiscreetCat, is a friend and a longtime LATG reader and commenter, under another name, who wishes to remain otherwise anonymous. And besides that, he's really good, as he's shown on the forum, generating a 40%+ flat-bet profit over a year of posting picks, mostly for the SoCal tracks. He should be well-familiar to readers of this site, and he's been conspicuous by his absence over the last few months as he's been working to get his site up and running.

So he sent me a complimentary login just the other day, and I went on and read this selection for Thursday's 7th race:

#4 Canteen (20/1 ml)

I'm not a big fan of this horse because he's always been an under-achiever, but he's clearly a leading contender here and that morning line is a joke. He's run very well in sprints throughout his career, most notably on this very same turf course vs. the flat-out monster Crossing the Line and the excellent turf-sprinter Fete. He also turned in an outstanding second behind the downhill specialist Soul City Slew in a race that just missed setting the course record. Should run another good one here, and at the price he's a definite overlay.
Canteen won by two and paid $55.40! And the Cat also had 6th race winner Seminole Native ($5.60), giving him two-of-three for the day. Nice. So, I suggested that a free trial period for LATG readers might be a good idea, and the Cat agreed. So please drop me an email, and I'll shoot back a login good for two free weeks, how about that?

What I particularly like about the Cat's picks is the simplicity of them, in line with the idea of trying to stick with the basics that I've discussed here recently. This was just basic handicapping, nothing fancy at all. I also like the fact that he doesn't feel the need to blab on and make specific cases against the horses he doesn't like. I always feel the need to do that, and in doing so, I make myself vulnerable to further humiliation when the horses I make a point of opposing go on to win, as Sinners n Saints did yesterday (though my selection scratched).

I've been trying to find a night to head out to the Meadowlands for some harness action. Besides the fact I haven't done so in a while and just miss it, I find that handicapping the trotters can be extremely helpful during these times of struggle. It forces me to focus on those basics that I tend to get away from - class, pace analysis, and form - simply because there ain't nothing else to go on, and has proven to be successfully therapeutic for me in the past. So I'll be doing that one night soon (probably without the Head Chef, who doesn't care for the sport largely because of the way the horses are whipped) and I'm going to leave the Penn National and Charles Town pp's at home.

- TVG's parent company, Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc, is being sold for $2.8 billion in cash and stock. The buyer, Macrovision, develops technology to prevent unauthorized copying and viewing of video, music and other content. [AP]
Macrovision wants to allow consumers to call up information about TV shows, view personal photos or access music libraries on a variety of electronic devices through a combination of its security software and GemStar-TV Guide's programming data.
TVG is clearly a business that is not core to Macrovision nor to their stated vision for their new acquisition. Whatsmore, Bloomberg reports that the buyer is spending more than double Macrovision's market value.
"Macrovision wasn't on the short list," said Mark Argento, an analyst at Minneapolis-based Craig-Hallum Capital Group. Gemstar stockholders were hoping for an all-cash deal, and Macrovision ``does not have the liquidity of a larger acquirer."
So, it would seem logical that Macrovision may very well want to shed TVG. Of course, HRTV's owner Magna Entertainment is not exactly in a buying mode at this time (Churchill owns a 50% share however). However, with both networks now in a possible, if not likely position to be sold, perhaps it's time for a look at Ron Geary's idea of a Centralized Betting Exchange, which he discussed at the University of Arizona symposium the other day.

- If you haven't seen it, the race-fixing trial of Kieren Fallon has come to an abrupt end, with the judge directing the jury to acquit all of the defendants. Fallon was immediately cleared to resume riding in Great Britain.
His employers at the Coolmore Stud in Ireland said they were delighted with the outcome, but added: "We find it extremely sad that he was denied the right to display his skills and earn a living on the racecourses of Britain while this case was pending.

"A jockey's riding career is a short one and Kieren was cruelly disadvantaged at the peak of his career. Kieren has been nothing less than superb in his riding of our horses - his record is there for all to see. [BBC Sport]
More reaction to this development as they come in over the weekend.


Anonymous said...

" a paid tout site,the proprietor, who wishes to remain otherwise anonymous"

What!Do we look like idiots?

Alan Mann said...

>>What!Do we look like idiots?

¿Que es el problema?

Anonymous said...

DiNapoli Calls For Legislation On Racing Franchise Financials

Albany Times Union
December 7, 2007
James M. Odato

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli today requested that Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the Legislature make the next racing franchise holder open records to his auditors, comply with competitive bidding rules and respond to criticisms of any financial problems.

The request was part of an audit of the New York Racing Association which stated NYRA shorted the state $10.9 million in franchise fees owed for 2004 and 2005. NYRA has also been criticized by state officials for awarding no-bid contracts.

NYRA officials say the audit reflects the continuing disagreement between its accountants and the state’s on how to calculate fees.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno’s office responded that the audit shows why the status quo on racing operators is not the right way to go.

The staffs of Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Spitzer met last night to discuss the future of the franchise and are having productive talks, according to one official familiar with the session.

“The state has exercised oversight over NYRA for the past 50 years and things keep going from bad to worse,'’ said Empire Racing Association’s Executive Director Jeffrey Perlee. “At some point we have to acknowledge that trying to simply reform the business operations of a chronically dysfunctional organization is throwing more good money after bad.'’ Empire has bid for the franchise.

Anonymous said...

After all I have read and learned about the NYRA, I'm not so sure they should get anything more than some face saving accomodation in the new world order of NY racing.

Alan Mann said...

Anon - Thanks for the franchise update. I've missed Perlee, nice to hear from him.

Here's more from the Associated Press, via Newsday:

Audit: NYRA shorted state $54 million in franchise fees


Associated Press Writer

2:42 PM EST, December 7, 2007


The New York Racing Association _ which may be facing its final three weeks in business after running thoroughbred racing since 1955 _ was hit with more bad news Friday when auditors claimed it failed to pay the state $54 million in franchise fees since 2000.

The audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found NYRA shorted the fees by $10.9 million in 2004-2005 alone. NYRA pays the state for the right to run the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga race tracks under the franchise. The fee is based on a calculation of revenue after expenses.

"Over and over again our auditors have found that NYRA has continually misinterpreted the mathematical formula for calculating the franchise fee and shortchanged taxpayers," DiNapoli said.

NYRA President Charles Hayward said the criticism is unwarranted, but he supports DiNapoli if he is calling for a review of how the franchise fee is calculated.

"We have sought legal and financial advice from lawyers and accountants who tell us we're doing it the right way," Hayward said. NYRA has paid little or no franchise fee since 2000 because expenses have exceeded revenue.

"If the comptroller is asking for clarification, then we applaud it. But we think we're doing it right," Hayward said.

Anonymous said...

Man, what a group this NYRA! I have to believe that NY State is finally through with this underperforming and questionable state racing franchisee. With that said, let's not forget the history of the NYRA and its predecesor organization (the name escapes me), and the many great families of consequence that were early American racing stalwarts. These good and traditional gentlemen and lady "horse" folks simply took their eye off the ball and let the operating entity run amuck and out of control. It happens all the time in closely held or family operated businesses. The recognition of their historical influence and thoroughbred industry contributions should be an important part of "restyling" NY racing. It will require that new and vibrant uncompromised business savy folks with a real understanding of and appreciation for the true spirit of the "sport of kings" become responsible for the business judgments and financial decisions, while being held responsible for reporting to the real shareholders; the NY taxpayers. I know, a little "gushing", but perhaps the framework for a solution the NYRA trustees can work towards with the State. As an industry advocate, one can only hope.

steve in nc said...

So the NY Post did scoop everyone. And for all I know, the negative spin is deserved. But I'm still keeping an open mind, since the IRS made rediculous and clueless accusations against NYRA, and the AG's office also showed they were clueless about racing when they pilloried the poor scale clerks. It seems this is a really specialized area of accounting. That said, the NYRA of old certainly would have made "accidental" errors in it's own favors, and for all I know, it still is.

I feel like Casey Stengel. Can't anyone here run this game? I guess Big Julie knocked off Nathan Detriot a long time ago in real life.

Glad your friend is hitting 'em at the CA windows and hope you cashed the 20-1 shot. But I love making my own picks too much, even if he's better. Thanks for the offer regardless.

Anonymous said...

Again, you can't get blood from a stone, in this case NYRA. NY racing fans please read carefully and repeat after me: The money was not there to fork over to the state- if the state had actually demanded payment, NY racing would have folded years ago. What part of this don't the chronic NYRA bashers get??? It's really just a bash NYRA mantra, never mind what the real facts are. Just like too many in the mainstream media are wont to do, and the pols trying to score points, including Joe Bruno. And then there's Spitzer, the biggest surprise of all in the racing franchise poker game.First Spitzer trashes NYRA while AG and, in part, rides into the Mansion in Albany on the trash NYRA horse. Then less less than a year later he, too, gets a grip on reality and concludes that despite all of the nasty things he's said about them, NYRA is still the best bet for the franchise. I thought to myself "Damn, NYRA must have a lot to recommend if the Steamroller is now touting them for the franchise, what a brilliant political stroke." Of course, I really expected he would finish them off for good this year but, no, he did the 'ol 180 and left us all scratching our heads. Do you really think that if NYRA were at all vulnerable, Spitzer would have signed on? Spitzer weighed all the options, all the bids, and decided on NYRA. I cannot believe it was only due to the murky title swamp- Spitzer, as we all have discovered, loves to do battle more than anything else, and he actually may have won NY voters to his side on this one if he played his hand right, and NYRA would have been forced to "cave" on the courthouse steps, "for the good of racing and the people of NY". /S/ Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

Tampa Bay Downs continues to ban jocks involved in the investigation from last year.

It's good to see this, though it would be nice to hear exactly why.

Also related to this story is that Gulfstream Park and Oaklawn Park have reciprocated.

Okay, that is good to see uniform protection of the wagering public, but why not ban Pletcher's stable from last year when he was under suspension?

THe Biancone ban is also a lame one. Biancone is essentially on a paid vacation. He will return in another 4.5 months and win several races next year, and I can guarantee he will win at least 3 Grade 1 races in 2008.

Is it Walter's site?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think Spitzer would have signed on (with NYRA) if he felt that together, with the help of Getnick, they could take down Senator Bruno.

Anonymous said...

On November 30th you reported an apparent compromise on the franchise issue. There wasn't ever anything of the kind. Ifeel like it that was you reporting "news" that reallly was pushing your agenda. Which seems to include 30 more years of the terrible NYRA. Fair blogging? Give me a break.

Alan Mann said...

>>On November 30th you reported an apparent compromise on the franchise issue. There wasn't ever anything of the kind. Ifeel like it that was you reporting "news" that reallly was pushing your agenda. Which seems to include 30 more years of the terrible NYRA. Fair blogging? Give me a break.

Hey man, I was only relaying what was being reported from the scene, and in fact, there was another report just yesterday that progress is being made. It makes me biased to report on what the press is reporting? And besides, even if you're right, it's my blog, and though I make a point of trying to at least present all sides of the issues, I of course have my opinions which I'm free to express. If you want fair reporting, try the NY Times. No? Well, how about the Albany Times-Union....the NY Post? Even the press that's supposed to be unbiased, unlike a site like this, really isn't so!

Teresa said...

Not that Alan needs my back-up, but it was widely reported on blogs and in the press, and discussed on the backstretch, that a deal was imminent.

Don't let your own anti-Alan agenda get in the way of the facts.

Anonymous said...

I took Alan up on his free trail at and after my own spin on analyais of Belafonte, I jumped on it. Belafonte will easily pay for the first years subscription. Thanks Alan!