- Many experts are not buying NYC OTB's threat to shut down in June, an action which would cause the elimination of some 1500 jobs, including, as noted by commenter (and blogger) Power Cap, hundreds of political patronage jobs. Steve Crist told the NY Times:
“It’s 100 percent posturing,” said Steven Crist, publisher and a columnist for The Daily Racing Form, the industry newspaper for thoroughbred racing. “A lot of racing legislation is going to be written in the next two weeks as the N.Y.R.A. franchise situation is resolved, and as part of whatever changes are made, OTB is looking for a larger slice of the betting handle.”Bennett Liebman told Bloodhorse.com that “The most likely scenario is they are trying to put significant pressure on state government, both the administration and legislature, to provide some relief to NYCOTB.” It certainly figures that a threat of this sort would be the thing to finally spur the reorganization of the OTB structure that should have been a part of the franchise process all along.
- As Santa Anita gets set to do a reorganization of its Cushion Track, Cliff Goodrich, a former president of the track, is taking some critics of the state's synthetic track mandate to task:
“To my knowledge there were six open committee hearings” leading up to the board’s action," he said. “I didn’t see one person during any of those meetings accuse the board of ‘a rush to judgment’ as has been written about and spoken of on the radio. Any new technology is going to have some growing pains. We at Fairplex fully support the board’s decision."It has to say something that, even with all the recent problems, as well as the griping over Del Mar, trainers remain supportive; at least according to Halpern.
Ed Halpern, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, said his board continues to support synthetic tracks, as do most of the trainers his organization has polled. “Trainers, with only rare exceptions, feel they like these new tracks and they do not want to go back to dirt tracks,” Halpern said. [Bloodhorse.com]
Dirt tracks have problems too of course, and Oaklawn has a reconditioned surface for this year. You may recall the glacial times recorded there last year (though I don't recall the kind of outcry about them that we heard at Del Mar); and there were complaints that horses were coming back body sore — or worse — because the surface had become too hard.
What maintenance officials found after the 2007 season ended in April, Jackson said, was the three elements of the track — sand, silt and clay — had essentially separated and became disproportionate. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]- If you thought we were done with Jeb Bush, think again. No, thankfully, he's not running for president, though it's possible that even a Bush could make some headway in the unsettled (and, in some cases, frightening) GOP field. (Could you imagine Bush vs. Clinton? Oh man....) But the former Florida governor is back in the news, lending his support to opponents of Miami-Dade's slots referendum on January 29.
''As I did two years ago when I was governor, I am urging all of my fellow Miami-Dade residents to join me in voting no on Jan. 29 so that we may continue to protect our community and our families....Expanded gambling will only serve to erode our traditional industries, the industries we aspire to have and our very social fabric.'' [Miami Herald]I guess that doesn't include the lotteries which flourished under his administration. If you're sick and tired of hearing these arguments, so is columnist Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun.
So, slots.I'm not at all surprised about that. To be honest, though you and I have the Maryland racing industry in mind, why should the average citizen there care? They've read plenty about the incompetence of Magna, and besides, Baltimore, where one of the proposed slots parlors would be located, has been particularly hard hit by the subprime mortgage crisis. The city is suing Wells Fargo, accusing it of predatory lending practices towards minorities there, thus, the suit claims, causing a wave of foreclosures. So voters there have more important things on their minds than the size of purses at Laurel, I'm sorry to say, and these familiar arguments may ring particularly true when the matter comes up for a vote. When Marylanders finally, after all these years, get to express their opinion on the matter, the timing may not be at all fortuitous for the racing industry.
Why not? If it means an end to the debate, we're fine with it.
Look, I gave up the fight a couple of years ago, out of boredom more than anything else. You get sick of hearing the same old arguments all the time, and I heard them in three media - print, radio and television.
Plus, there's a certain inevitability about slots - you know it when you see it, and I've seen it coming for several years.
I mean, really. Why should Maryland be some prissy oasis from this sleazy form of recreation?
You've heard the arguments: Delaware does it. West Virginia does it, and hot-damn, ma'am, we can't let ourselves fall behind those fine, progressive states. (Last week, Education Week ranked each state for K-12 achievement in public education. Maryland got a B and ranked third nationally. West Virginia got an F; its eighth-graders are 47th in math and 43rd in reading. Delaware got a C-minus. )
While I'm not surprised that a majority of Maryland voters now approve of slots, I'm a little surprised that only 32 percent of us think some of the revenue derived from gambling should prop up the state's racing industry.