- Speaking of staycations, business continues to generally boom at the Yonkers Raceway racino. Business has leveled off a bit as the summer wanes....is it a coincidence that gas prices have eased over that time? But look at the numbers from last summer compared to this, and the improvement is quite evident.
As slots revenues rise, so do the purses for the races. The latest purse increase was 21.6%, after a 15% boost in July. This has boosted the fortune of the horsemen, and not only with respect to earnings. Business at the claim box is going through the roof. Seven horses were claimed just this past Saturday.
The highest claim for $50,000 was followed by three claims at $40,000; one at $30,000 and two at $20,000. The total spent at the claim box was $240,000. [LoHud.com]The track is now considering claiming races with tags as high as $100,000. In a statement, the Standardbred Owners Association of NY said: "None of the present positive action at Yonkers Raceway was conceivable before the VLTs came on board."
This is all pretty amazing when you consider that, not too long ago, the track had been left for dead. Waiting for the End at Yonkers Raceway reads the headline of a virtual obituary published in the NY Times in 2000.
A year after celebrating its centennial, Yonkers Raceway is dying. What was once New York's greatest gambling venue has lost out to TV, casinos, and harness racing's failure to attract a new generation of fans.That all changed...except of course at Aqueduct....the following year when, faced with dire financial circumstances after the 9/11 attacks, the legislature approved VLT's at the state's racetracks.
''Our time at Yonkers has come to an end,'' Tim Rooney, the racetrack's owner, said in an interview in his office at the track. ''You can't have a 100-acre facility and just use a fraction of the property.'' After losing roughly $5 million for three years running, the track broke even in 1999, but the property is for sale, and the track will likely be gone in a year or two.
The only way to revive the track, said Mr. Rooney, would be to introduce slot machines, which have brought new life to a number of dying harness tracks in other states. Although casino gambling is illegal in New York State, slot machines -- or a near variant known as Video Lottery Terminals -- could become legal at Yonkers if a current effort to introduce casino gambling in the Catskills is successful.
However, that is viewed as a long shot, and is not likely to delay the track's sale, which could happen as early as this summer, said Joe Morningstar, the managing director of Rockwood Realty, the principal marketer of the property.
Meanwhile, the track is slowly being dismantled.
- The MSG Network, which has absolutely nothing to do but show old Rangers and Knicks games during the summer, will televise the Woodward Stakes on Saturday.
- Free grandstand AND clubhouse admission at Saratoga on closing day. So it's a chance for you to wander into the clubhouse and check out where the better half bets. No profanity please. Maybe you'll run into Joe Bruno if you're lucky.
- Nice job by NYRA, creating a Curlin web page, complete with a "blog" by Robby Albarado, a workout tab, and links to past performances, some nice photos, and replays of all of his career races.
- Governor Paterson addressed the Democratic convention on Tuesday.