- Thousands pack Fair Grounds for Derby Preview Day. [WWLTV.com] Churchill doesn't announce attendance figures, but this article estimates the crowd at Fair Grounds on Saturday as "over 7,000," which is very good for that track. But more significantly:
Officials at the Fair Grounds say they have recovered almost 100 percent since Hurricane Katrina, due partly because of revenue that slots and off track betting are generating.Again, while NY racing is in its current state of shambles, concerning both thoroughbreds and trotters, racing and racinos, Louisiana is an example of what can happen when the business model makes sense. Fair Grounds' OTB's (and, presumably, the rescue workers) helped to support the track when it was ravaged by Katrina, and continues to play a constructive role. And its racinos, whose low tax structure was blasted by legislators considering slots in other states, continue to generate revenue for all concerned. 18.45% of something beats 70% of nothing any day of the week. [Hat tip to Albany Law School's Racing and Gaming Today]
According to numbers from the Louisiana State Police Gaming Division, slots at the Fair Grounds have been generating more and more money as the months go by.
In September, slots brought in more than $360,000. In October, that number jumped to $1.2 million.
The most recent numbers from December show it at more than $1.7 million.
- We've heard a lot about how horsemen in Southern California have been patient with Santa Anita management as they attempt to repair its racetrack, and supportive overall of the synthetic track mandate in the state. But Ahmad Zayat has had enough, even as the Cushion Track at Santa Anita has been repaired (we hope).
Ahmed Zayat has removed his horses from training in Southern California, transferring them from the barn of Bob Baffert to Steve Asmussen, Bill Mott, and Dale Romans.Funny that he would pull out now, after the work was completed on the Cushion Track. And the reviews have been rather positive.
Baffert trained six horses for Zayat, including Grade 3 winner Massive Drama and promising three-year-olds J Be K and Maimonides. Massive Drama finished third in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) on Sunday at Santa Anita Park.
Baffert and Zayat’s racing manager, Sobhy Sonbol, said issues with the synthetic surfaces in place at Southern California three major tracks led to the decision. “He got frustrated with the track [surface] situation,” Baffert said. [Thoroughbred Times]
"I love it," [Garrett] Gomez said.Perhaps we'll be repeating Mandella's quote someday soon regarding the situation in New York! Not everybody was yet convinced about the Cushion Track though. Guess who? "It's too early to tell," [Bob Baffert] said. "Some horses like it, some don't."
"It's great," jockey Joe Talamo said. "It has settled in and is even better today than it was yesterday."
Said jockey Michael Baze: "It's certainly better than it was, more cushiony, which is good for the horses. The question now is how it will hold up the next time it rains."
Said trainer Richard Mandella: "Sometimes you have to make a lot of mistakes to get something right." [LA Times]
- A commenter writes:
...The chart for Phillip X reads "Phillip X fell and broke down in deep stretch." No mention of how this horse gutted his way to the lead. Around a year ago, a similar incident took place at the Big A with a filly named LC Tornado. She was 15-1 and was about to win the race in deep stretch and she broke down in horrible fashion. At the time, the chart writer made no note of her winning effort. I realize it's a tough world, etc etc, but this is so lame. These horses give their lives and the chart writer should at least discuss the effort that took place. I realize these guys make a small paycheck, but they should be more passionate for the game. I guess I have to write Equibase and have them change the chart just like I did a year ago with poor LC Tornado..