- Seems rather odd to me that the Breeders' Cup folks would be about to award Santa Anita its second consecutive BC today, as reported by the LA Times.
"I think we're the leading candidate," said Allen Gutterman, the track's vice president of marketing.For one thing, the track is currently such a disaster given its dysfunctional racing surface, that the timing seems especially strange; indeed, the outlook for Friday's scheduled re-opening on the revised Cushion Track was termed as "guarded" by Ron Charles. I'm not sure if BC officials were on hand for the wildly successful Pro-Ride demonstration that pre-empted the other options being considered at the time.
Sherwood "Chilli" Chillingworth, executive vice president and director of the Oak Tree Racing Assn., also expressed optimism in getting the bid.
"This year, we'll host the first Breeders' Cup to be run on a synthetic track," he said, "and next year we'd be the first to host back-to-back Breeders' Cups."
But even forgetting that, at a time when the industry has taken a wait-and-see approach to the installation of new artifical surfaces amidst a general wariness (that the debacle at Santa Anita has greatly contributed to) and a sense that it's gone too fast, the annual industry showcase is plunging full speed ahead. It seems to me that this could reflect Greg Avioli's comments last year that they would stick to the bigger tracks for now. With Churchill having taken its unimaginably greedy bottom line avoidance of hosting the event, NYRA still up in the air (perhaps they'd want to wait another day or two given the rumors of a pending settlement), Gulfstream no longer able to physically handle a large crowd (not to mention its configuration which makes its nine furlong races unfair), and Del Mar's grass course not wide enough to accommodate the big fields, it would seem that Santa Anita is, at present, the only feasible option. Cushion Track, Pro-Ride, or whatever.
So get used to the synthetics.....the Breeders' Cup is giving them the kind of credibility that could, by itself, drown out the opposition for now.
- Thanks to reader Indulto for these very well-thought out suggestions of how NYRA could attempt to meet attendance benchmarks that the reader feels would be most reasonable. I have to admit that I'm skeptical of the notion that the live sport can be revived to any significant extent downstate. And I think that some of these ideas - weekend autograph sessions, backstretch tours, handicapping seminars - have been tried before. However, the idea of takeout and rebate advantages for on-track players, expedited mass transit (how about tour buses with free Forms and an in-transit handicapping seminar), and, of course, greatly improved facilities could only help. Admission and parking are generally free at the racinos I've been to, so I imagine that will be the case at Aqueduct, at least. (But I got reamed by an employee at the Form the last time I suggested making PP's free, asking if I wanted to put them out of business.)
In addition to these ideas, I always liked the 'mystery vouchers' that used to be widely mailed, with a minimum value and the possibility of a big prize. And if NYC OTB was ever consolidated, NYRA could use them in a constructive way to actually encourage people to go to the track, through contests, incentives, and the opportunity to publicize ideas such as the ones presented above.
In any event and on second thought, such benchmarks would certainly put NYRA's feet to the fire, and an attendance drive out of desperation could only help to inspire even more creative ideas. But, as I said, this is something I believe NYRA will examine very closely before agreeing to it.
- And an excellent point by this reader regarding the NY horsemen's silence on the franchise and the VLT percentages.
..Nothing in the Spitzer proposal indicates that NYRA will be required to have a written agreement with the horsemen on simulcasting, as required by federal law for every other racetrack in the United States. Thus, they have no leverage.Well, a far more aggressive approach would be to threaten a boycott. I can't really think of any other way.
They go along to get along. What's their option?
Nothing new to report on the negotiations. Albany Channel 13 says to hold your horses; but Newsday called the deal "imminent."