Hot money in Friday's 6th on Platinum; 7-2 in the morning line off a debut second at Churchill, 6-5 at post time for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, and an easy winner by five. Feverish Flight, the morning line favorite, was third for owner Edward Evans. Perhaps this was one of the horses which that owner took away from Jerkens; in any event, I'm sure it must have felt good for him nonetheless. John Velazquez was up, and check it out; the rider is three-for-five at the meeting for the barn, and 14 for 28 overall for 2008-09. Platinum is by Mineshaft, and she's a 3/4 sister to the graded stakes placed A.P. Adventure.
Another winner for Christophe Clement (20 for 71, 28%), with Catoosa ($19) making a successful switch to grass to graduate in her third start.
South Fourth St. enjoyed his brief stay in the Scott Lake barn. Claimed for 25K from Contessa and Winning Move, he took the second race and was claimed right back by his former connections. One race, and a quick $27,000 in purse money for owner Mike Repole.
- Struggling to balance its budget, as is the case in most other states, some politicians in Pennsylvania have their eyes on the fortunes being generated by slots for purses at racetracks. Specifically, there's talk in the legislature of a move to "raid" the purse fund to the tune of $100 million, as reported by Glenye Cain Oakford in the Racing Form the other day, and picked up on by Bill Finley on ESPN.com, who notes: The logic: what's more important, horse race purses or having enough money for the state to function properly?
Pennsylvania isn't the first state to contemplate reducing racing's share of the profits from slot machines, but never before has such a mammoth cut been proposed. For now, it's merely an idea that has been tossed around by certain members of the state's Republican Party, but it's hard to imagine the proposal not picking up steam. The state needs money and horse racing is an easy target. Outside the very narrow world of the racetrack, who's going to care that the allowance race now going for $43,000 at Philly Park gets sliced down to $20,000? [ESPN.com]And, as Finley pointed out, there's been some support for the idea in the press as well.
We're not suggesting the industry's not important and doesn't deserve a piece of the gaming revenues. Though we can't help being struck by the irony - irony is the least-offensive word we can conjure to describe it - that the expansion of gambling in the state was designed to save another form of gambling: betting on horses.If you missed it, Tom Lamarra wrote an extremely thoughtful column on the subject the other day on his At Large blog on Bloodhorse.com. His point is that the one of the reasons that the money is such an easy target is that the industry has not used any of its windfall to help grow the sport, as evidenced by the sinking wagering figures in slots and non-slots states alike; but only to grow the revenues of horsemen. He feels that everyone needs to make a sacrifice for the greater good.
Considering the community strife that slots parlors have brought to this city alone, and the social costs of gaming that many opponents decry, the idea that it's all designed to fatten the winnings of horse races - and not to benefit the greater good - is questionable in the extreme. [Philly Daily News editorial]
No one told horse racing groups they had to spend all their slots money on purses and breeding programs. But that's what has occurred, and now we have a competition over who has the highest purses rather than a thoughtful approach that looks at the big picture. Capital improvements and racing-related marketing have suffered.Some food for thought indeed.
Would you trade $2,000 of an inflated purse for $25,000 a day more in pari-mutuel handle? It wouldn't take a whole lot of cash to hire a few people to focus on that aspect of the business. And a track with slots really shouldn't cry poor given the privilege it has been awarded.
It's pretty sad. Many racino tracks, particularly those on the East Coast, are providing incomplete past-performance information in simulcast programs because it's "cheaper." You'd think tracks with gaming revenue would have the best PP program information for the most reasonable price. After all, they own the data.
Maybe the horsemen can cough up one-hundredth of 1% of slots revenue to provide quality simulcast programs that encourage wagering. [Bloodhorse.com]
- I've been writing about all the free music in town as you know (and possibly resent); but the mother of all NYC free concerts are the annual performances on the Great Lawn at Central Park by the Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic. And on Tuesday, we went to see the latter....as did, or so it seemed that night, most everyone else in the city. The police estimated the crowd as 80,000, which I'd say was conservative. Man, look at this, there were people as far as the eye can see! (That's the stage, the speck to the left of the tree.) It was a perfect storm I guess, most notably of a beautiful night in a summer which hadn't had many as of yet. The Times had a great article on a night which truly flirted with perfection.
And, after the music, I got to finally check out the 'fireworks' setting on my digital camera....and it works! (Kind of....)
On Thursday night, we saw another free show, this one at Castle Clinton, the remnants of a 19th century fort built in anticipation of the War of 1812 (Ah, the good old days when wars had succinct names and limited durations) preserved in Battery Park as a national landmark. First in a series of concerts dedicated to Woodstock, this was a tribute to Sly and the Family Stone with Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, with very special guests such as Bernie Worrell on keyboards, the great Vernon Reid on guitar, and an array of vocalists, including a soulful Martha Wainwright and a petite yet incredibly full-throated woman named Shilpa Ray, who I became immediately fascinated with (infatuated with, the Head Chef might say with disdain). Anyway, a fun night in a cool setting.
And last night, not free, but a record release show in Brooklyn for my good buddy Steven Joerg's Aum Fidelity jazz label. I worked with Steven back in my music industry days, and he has since, for the last 12 years, been running this label out of his apartment. During that time as you probably know, labels with far more formidable resources have fallen by the wayside, but he has managed to forge on, truly a labor of dedication and love of music. His latest release is by guitarist/bassist Joe Morris; the trio and CD is entitled Wildlife, and you can check out some samples on the website linked to above (click on the album cover). One of the many amazing things about New York is how many amazingly talented jazz musicians there are that most people have never heard of. And three of them, Morris, saxophonist Petr Cancura, and drummer Luther Gray, performed last night is a space no bigger than my basement. Just unreal! From the New York Philharmonic on a stage about a mile away to an incredible jazz trio about ten feet away from my face...summer in the city, dig it.