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Thursday, February 28, 2008

News and Notes and Curlin!

- Many thanks to reader Nate for posting this link to a replay of Curlin's tuneup in Dubai today; click on Race 5, the Jaguar Trophy. And as Nate pointed out, in case you can't access the video for some reason, Robby Albarado was absolutely still throughout in what was nothing but a jog. And remember that he was conceding ample weight to the others in the field. Next up is the World Cup on March 29.

- Here's a report from a local New Jersey paper regarding a threat by Republican State Senator Jennifer Beck, whose constituency includes Monmouth County, to "fast track" a bill to permit 10,000 (!!) VLT's at the Meadowlands should the Casino Association of New Jersey not agree to a new subsidy package by next week.

Beck said she recently spoke to Senate President Richard Codey, Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Paul Sarlo, both Democrats, and a CANJ representative. During the conference call, the CANJ alleged Gov. Jon Corzine's office is responsible for the delay, she said.

"I don't know where the truth lies," Beck said.

Beck said that Codey would allow her to post legislation for VLTs if the issue is not resolved soon.

"The absence of CANJ support, to me, means we shouldmove forward [with VLTs] immediately," she said. [Examiner]
If you've been following the budget travails of Governor Jon Corzine, who proposed drastic cuts in state spending and employment in a coolly-received address the other day, you know that the racing industry ain't getting a dime from the state; I'd read earlier reports that the casinos wanted the state to kick in part of the subsidy. Corzine, a Democrat, has also been trying to sell massive toll increases in a desperate attempt to raise revenue; yet he remains "adamantly against" VLTs at the tracks. Once again, the slots issue seems to vary in its party partisanship from state to state. Tom Luchento, the head of the state's standardbred horsemen's group, claims that VLT's would generate $2 billion annually; but Corzine seems to want no part of slot machine kool-aid.

But even should a bill pass (and it's always been my understanding that the casinos have the political clout to prevent that), Senator Beck points out that the tracks would still need short term support, to the tune of $30 million over the next three years. "In my opinion, the money should come out of the casinos' pockets." Good luck with that should slots get approved!!

A couple of readers (or perhaps the same one) have queried whether slots at the Meadowlands would activate the clause in the NY franchise/racino bill that would provide a higher slice of VLT revenues for a racino if "a gaming facility of any nature in a “contiguous state” is established “within a midpoint of 30 miles.” Well? It certainly would appear as if the literal answer is yes. I doubt, however, that a higher rate for Aqueduct and Yonkers is what the author of that clause had in mind.

- The Kentucky casino amendment moved successfully out of the reconstituted House committee; this is the version that would require the state's tracks to compete for up to five racino licenses, as opposed to another which would have guaranteed them.
Nick Nicholson, president of Keeneland, said last night that the industry believes it doesn't have enough protection in the bill that passed yesterday.

"We preferred the amendment that the committee preferred (Tuesday)," he said. "But we'll be meeting … and soul-searching for our next moves." [Louisville Courier-Journal]
But Michael at Curb Your Enthusiasm hears that fewer than 50 democrats can be counted on to support the Richards measure.
Apparently allies of Speaker Pro-Tem Larry Clark and House Whip Rob Wilkey, as well as members with racetracks in or near their districts, find themselves unable to support the new measure.
60 votes are required for the amendment to proceed to the Senate.

- Michael Veitch, in a somewhat self-fulfilling piece in the Saratogian, writes of the increasing comparisons of War Pass to Seattle Slew; and notes that, like the 1977 Triple Crown champ, Zito's colt has some pedigree on his side.
War Pass is also blessed with a powerful female family. His mother, Vue, has also produced Spinaway Stakes winner Oath in 1996. Her great-grandmother is champion Bayou, who finished second in the Coaching Club American Oaks. Bayou is the mother of Alluvial, who produced Belmont Stakes winner

Coastal and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Slew o’ Gold. [Saratogian]
I'd read before last weekend that Zito spent some time watching some of Slew's races; don't know if he showed them to War Pass too! That would remind me of when Mike Keenan showed tapes of past ticker tape parades to the Rangers as one of his first acts as coach before the 1994 Stanley Cup season!

Zito may be doing more than just watching and fantasizing though. A look at Seattle Slew's preparation for the Derby shows that Nick is taking a similar approach; with certain differences dictated by the different eras. Slew ran three times prior to Churchill - a seven furlong allowance race at Hialeah on March 9; the G1 Flamingo at the same track on the 26th; and the Wood on April 23rd. The latter was just two weeks before the Derby, which we'll probably certainly never again see in our lifetimes. But Seattle Slew's preparation was not at all dissimilar, in relative terms, to War Pass' planned campaign of three preps, which will continue with the Tampa Bay Derby and the Wood.


Anonymous said...

The NJ Casino's own several Trenton legislators. You will never see slots at Freehold or the Big M. Corzine did not cut the budget - it is the same as last year. In fact the NJ budget is 5 billion more than Pennsylvania's. The budget problem lies with the fact that the aid to municipalities and school funding for the 40 poorist districts has grown to a point that it consumes the majority of the spending. The people that live in these cities vote democratic so the funding will never be cut.

Anonymous said...

Of course, first Anonymous, you do understand that costs increase every year---especially with little or no help coming from the equally broke federal government---so not increasing the budget is the same as a drastic cut. You probably don't understand that, but those are the financial facts.

Anonymous said...

Second anonymous - I guess you don't understand how many billions have been thrown down the ratholes of Newark, Trenton, Jersey City, etc. Get my point. It costs almost 18k per year to educate a child in Newark. Do you think this is working ? Look at the test scores. This money is used to buy the votes of the non-producers who inhabit the NJ cities that vote Democratic. NJ has the highest per capita tax rate in the country. Of course this only applies to those who pay taxes.

Explain this to me - why are there 81 state workers per square mile in NJ ? Why is the budget of Pa 5 billion less ?

You sound like a tax and spend socialist (democrat).