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Friday, July 31, 2009

It's The Weather, Stupid

There's this guy who loudly hawks what I thought was a tip sheet in the grandstand at Del Mar; for just 50 cents - "it's the cheapest thing you'll buy all day" - and that's for damn sure - "I got selections for all the races, just had the first two races, and how easy can it get?" Been listening to this spiel since we got here, so I figured I'd check it out. I figured for fifty cents, I couldn't be disappointed....but I was. What he's really selling is the local North County Times newspaper with the paper turned to the racing page with the selection box and the graded entries. There's some creative marketing that the newspaper industry needs these days. Maybe a guy from the NY Times could stand in Times Square promising all the inside dope on what to do in NYC for just two bucks (the cheapest thing you'll buy there all day) with the paper turned to the movie listings.

But I'm gonna get revenge by quoting from a story in the paper without a link (it's not online anyway). There was yet another fatality (different article) at Del Mar on Thursday morning, and that makes seven, six on Poly, four of those in the morning. However, Doug O'Neill, who has lost a horse here, was quoted in Thursday's article in the NC Times as saying that the track is "in great shape."

"The one thing I have learned from this experience is that I might get my horses down here earlier and get them used to the track. It's just a different surface than Hollywood Park. The horses dig into this track more. It's more demanding but it's safe."
This is all a learning experience for the industry to be sure, and perhaps we're learning that it wasn't such a great idea to have such different surfaces in play. According to Del Mar's VP Tom Robbins, the trainers are not complaining about the surface. "The trainers would be hanging on my door, but they haven't asked for a meeting."

Track president Joe Harper said:
"It ain't the track's fault....There's not much we can control in the mornings. We can control it a little bit in the afternoons, but there are a lot of sore horses." [NC Times]
That's the type of statement that could get the trainers to ask for that meeting after all. He's either blaming them for working out sore horses, or, perhaps, providing a commentary on the general state of the horse population in the third year of the synthetic mandate.

- I was going to pick Kiawah Cat in the Lake George at Saratoga today, but I see that it's all rainy and sloppy there. At this writing, it's the only grass race which hasn't been taken off, but that can change given a look at the weather map. We can debate the relative merits of Saratoga and Del Mar from here to next Derby day....but one might say "It's the weather, stupid." How many different ways can one say that it's just perfect out here every single day.....and I don't know if it's been at all so by local standards as there's been a fair amount of clouds around. It's damn near paradise as far as I'm concerned. And we still have today and tomorrow to go.

Your favorite lefty blogger has now had four winning days in four tries here on the left coast. On Thursday, a brief appearance in deference to the Head Chef's birthday, I managed to bail out on my last bet, cashing a saver exacta on the 7th which turned out to be pretty lucrative. I had Big Bad Leroybrown keyed on top, but the exacta returned a generous $61.80 when he fell short to class-dropping Paul's Hope ($8); and I had that enough times to get me easily in the positive column for the day.

- For those of you back in New York, some good music both upstate and down. On Saturday night, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are at Northern Lights in Clifton Park, about halfway between Albany and Saratoga on the Northway as you probably know. The band will be fresh off an appearance at the All Points West festival this evening along with Vampire Weekend, Jay Z, The National, and Q-Tip, who I saw for free at Central Park a couple of weekends ago. And Polvo performs at the South Street Seaport in NYC tonight. Guess I need to add the weather permitting to that one.

Here, the Wailers will play after the card at Del Mar, which starts at 3 PM. They're all prepared with all the No Smoking signs, as they prohibit the lighting up of anything in an attempt to ban all the pot smoking that went on last year. I have to ask why, if there is a perceived problem with people smoking pot, they would possibly schedule no less than four reggae concerts for their Friday night series!? That's like announcing that you want to ban gambling, and then scheduling a horse racing meet.


jk said...

The Times Union reports on who has bid what for the Big A Racino. It looks like the State will get less than half of what Del. North originally promised.

Aqueduct franchise fee pegged at $145 million

July 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm by James M. Odato

Robert Megna, the director of the state Division of the Budget, today said the DOB is estimating a franchise fee of $145 million will be collected from the operator of an Aqueduct video lottery terminal facility. That “franchise payment” is booked as coming in between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, he said, but added that a selection of a bidder should happen this summer.

Aqueduct Entertainment, a group which includes the builders of Casino Niagara (Ontario) has bid $151 million, including $101 up front and $50 million when the facility is up and running; and MGM/Don Peebles has bid $150 million, according to bidding sources. SL Green has proposed a conditional bid of $250 million, including $100 million guaranteed. Others were below those levels in terms of up-front dollars: Wynn put in a bid of $75 million (he said he is willing to up that ante); Penn National bid $5 million; Delaware North bid $100 million, according to sources.

Anonymous said...

Backtalk -- son of Smarty Jones -- won the Gr. 2 Sanford at Saratoga on Thursday.
Lots of competitive spirit and Smarty's first real prospect.
Maybe he will finally overcome the Birdstone jinx.

steve in nc said...

"attempt to ban all the pot smoking"

I know this is tilting at windmills, but with beer being poured at the White House as salve for racial tension, aren't we as a society behaving just a little stupidly by continuing the drug prohibition?

We're swimming in a sea of red ink, but paying how much $$ to incarcerate people who, without prohibition, wouldn't be criminals?

And we've got guys dying in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, which bankrolls its operations selling poppies for heroin, which is only only lucrative because we ban it.

Both parties suffer from political glaucoma. If they smoked reefer together, we'd get bipartisan agreement on health care very quickly. Of course the next day, no one would remember what the plan was.

ballyfager said...

"It ain't the track's fault". But it was the track's fault when the breakdowns were occuring on dirt.

John said...

You are my favorite lefty blogger and after sitting through two consecutive rainy opening days at the Spa, Del Mar is starting to look good to me. Maybe next year.

Anonymous said...

Bloodhorse piece at conclusion of Aqueduct presentations today.

So now what?

Anonymous said...

Read the Bloodhorse article. Sounds like a nice competition amongst this go round of bidders for Aqueduct. One thing struck me as inconsistent, S.L Green and the Hardrock Seminole Indians say they have no ties to any current operators in CT, PA or NJ. Yet, Jeff Gural, a well know NY casino guy and one of Hardrock/Seminole key guys is a pricipal investor in the Bethlehem Sands casino in PA?

So why would S.L. Green forget about Jeff Gural's investment in a bordering state?

jk said...


ALBANY -- New York City's OTB, saddled with a bloated payroll, too many outlets, a huge fleet of cars and several no-bid contracts, "is unlikely to avoid financial insolvency," a scathing state audit has found.

The audit found that OTB management had not conducted a study of its staffing needs since 1981 -- before the initiation of telephone and Internet betting options that account for an increasing percentage of wagering.

It also discovered that OTB maintained a total of 87 vehicles, including several recently purchased high-priced SUVs, 22 of which were routinely used by executives to commute to and from work.

Anonymous said...

IF NYRA had these issues the State would indict them.

Anonymous said...

The NYCOTB organization is pitiful. I suppose it does create patronage jobs as politicans always have to return favors, and serves to take some money away from the street bookies. It just doesn't serve modern day parimutual wagering needs. It's more of a gathering place for those that need somplace to go, so maybe some social purpose.

When Sandy Frucher puts it into Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the NYRA may be able to bargain. What concerns me a bit, having followed the Aqueduct VLT award drama, are the comments that Steve Duncker and Charlie Hayward have made where if the NYRA controlled at least NYCOTB, they wouldn't necessarily need the VLT subsidies from Aqueduct. If this played out, where would the NY Breeders and Horsemen be in the "new OTB entity" mix if Aqueduct VLT's were ignored or slowed down, as that's the only place those groups have a statutory provision to get a piece od the action? They should be watching this as it develops very carefully.