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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Way Off Base

There's a short article on the website which shows one of the big obstacles to any solution to NYRA's cash needs which requires the approval of the state legislature.

Governor David Paterson has proposed spending $17 million to preserve New York Racing Association thoroughbred horse racing seasons at Saratoga and Belmont and that has the ire of Assemblyman Frank Skartados (D-Milton).

The governor’s latest plan comes at the same time as he shut down 41 state parks and 14 historic sites across New York, including in the Hudson Valley, to save money during the budget crisis.

Paterson’s priorities are “seriously misplaced,” said the freshman lawmaker. “The fact that he’s willing to spend $17 million for a few weeks of horse racing in two communities while working families are denied access to some of New York’s most treasured attractions is absolutely outrageous.” [Mid-Hudson News Network]
I don't blame the Assemblyman for being upset about the park sucks, and it affects people all over the state (including at John Boyd Thacher State Park, a personal favorite near Albany). But he's sadly and, given the present circumstances, frighteningly off base, for reasons which I don't have to spell out for many readers. Nobody is "spending $17 million for a few weeks of horse racing." They're trying to, with money to be loaned against a guaranteed revenue stream (and if NYRA never gets a racino and the state therefore never gets the money back it's their own damn fault), sustain an enterprise which employs thousands and which returns many times more in revenue to the state. And to prevent the irreparable damage which will result from a wholesale exodus should racing be suspended for any significant length of time. Somebody needs to educate guys like this, as you can be sure he has many colleagues who are thinking along similarly misinformed lines.

No news at all on Wednesday, and no news is assuredly not good news in this case. In fact, the silence feels rather ominous.

Already you may have read the story in the Saratogian about Gary Contessa shipping part of his stable down to Monmouth.
“I am committed to Monmouth because no one is committed to me.....Todd Pletcher is already taking his best horses to Monmouth. John Velasquez is going to Monmouth. There’s no instability in New Jersey right now."
Ha, no instability in New Jersey? The tracks there had been cowering in fear at the thought of slots at Aqueduct given their inability to overcome the political persuasion of the Atlantic City casinos. This year, with no slots in sight and Pennsylvania just to its west, they cut racing dates from 141 to 50. Yet now, it's stable, compared to New York. Hell, Magna seems stable compared to New York.

And have you seen the entries for opening day at Monmouth? Thirteen races for total purses of $812,000; 148 horses entered. As mentioned above, Johnny V is spending the day there, as is Garrett Gomez.

- In the 5th at Belmont on Thursday, Desert Falcon (12-1) races in a one-turn mile for the first time going back 11 races to March 26 [2009], on which date he won for the third straight time at that same route at Gulfstream Park. Since then, he's been up, down, and recently back up in class, and in performance as well, with a record of 4-0-2 in his last seven races. Cut back from two turns with two sprints in his latest, he affirmed his good form with a five wide rally for a close 4th in a Philly Park allowance, a half length behind Map of the World, a winner in his subsequent effort. Stretch out should serve him extremely well, as should his recent tactical speed in a race with a short field, though with a possibility of a contested pace. Bad Action (9-5) won the G3 Pegasus last November at the Meadowlands, and man, was he on a roll around here last fall. He was then taken out of his game though with a try in the Sunshine Millions on grass, and then a trip to Barbados. Now returns off a brief layoff and tries one turn. Senior's Pride (2-1) is sharp and has the best figs; but this one has also been running in two-turn routes.


ballyfager said...

No one would like to see Mth succeed more than I. But what they're doing won't create any more good horses.

Sure, they may gain a temporary edge for one summer, but if they're successful other tracks will respond in kind. That would create an upward spiral which would benefit nobody but the horseman. And frankly, the horseman make me sick with their indifference, or outright hostility, to horseplayers.

To the guy who thinks NY-bred races are okay because they have big fields - that's like going to a restaurant with lousy food because they serve big portions. And yes, I'm aware there are people who actually do this.

To the guy who insists I'm attacking NYRA despite my statement in plain English that I am indifferent to NYRA - if you want to defend NYRA you'll have to find someone who's attacking it and that is emphatically not me.

Jackie said...

Actually NJ will have 71 days of thoroughbred racing this year, not 50.

I think what Contessa is saying is that Monmouth's meet this year is not in jeopardy compared to Belmont. Earlier this week Belmont threatened to cancel racing after the Belmont Stakes and there were questions about Saratoga. Even if it was a bluff by NYRA, why should someone who's income depends on races being run commit to staying at NYRA when they could potentially shut down? Plus, Monmouth's purses are significantly higher than NYRA's this year.

Anonymous said...

I thought Contessa had a string at Mth the last few years anyway?

He would be there with or without the instability at NYRA, just makes business sense.

Figless Anon said...

bally, how you take my comments as being indifferent or hostile to horseplayers confounds me. I am a horseplayer first, a horsman (barely) second.

There are two distinct aspects to racing, the sport and the wagering.

I love a good quality card, as apparenly do you.

In fact I am one of the few people on the planet who can watch a race full of quality horses run without making a wager. I watch TVG sometimes without betting. You obviously, to your credit, enjoy quality racing for which I commend you. But you are not the typical horseplayer, sorry to say.

The vast majority of the bettors couldn't care less about quality, unfortunately. They are more concerned with the gambling, and it has been proven they would rather wager on a big field than a small field, regardless of quality. Big fields equal big handle, like it or not, this is a fact. Consequently, State bred races are essential to the survival of racing everywhere but KY.

Your second paragraph confuses me. How do fewer racing dates with bigger fields benefit horsemen rather than horseplayers?

You have it exactly backwards.

As a gambler I love big fields, preferably of quality but if not I prefer more horses which makes for a more challenging puzzle and more opportunity to find an overlay.

As a horseman, the last thing I want is a short meet where I will be facing full fields every time I run. I can not pay my bills that way.

As a NY Breeder, I resent your constant attacks on NY Breds, without them NY racing would suffer immeasurably. They are the lifeblood of the industry here in NY right now in the current political climate. If you have some unfounded fear or hate of NY bred horses, wager somewhere else. Skip the race. You can always play PA breds, NJ breds, MD breds, FL breds, CA bred fields running at their respective tracks. Whats the problem?

IF only KY breds meet your quality test then by all means stick to playing KY racetracks, we dont need you or your endless bashing of an industry that employees 30,000 in tough economic times.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that NY bred races dominate every card, are fully of poorly bred horses in horrible form, and are boring. Double the number of open company races and make them run against all comers. If they can't compete against horses bred in Kentucky and elsewhere, too bad.

ballyfager said...

@Figless Anon

I was not speaking to you or of you. I was not aware that you were a horseman.

If you want names, I'll give you two by way of example. Jeff Mullins ,who said that horseplayers are assholes. The less said about Mullins the better.

And Richard Mandella who said a year or two ago that horseplayers don't matter, or words to that effect. This was particularly troubling because Mandella has always been depicted as a good guy. If he's a good guy God knows what the bad guys think.

Does anyone doubt there are plenty of bad guys among the horsemen?

jk said...

Beware when you see a politician break out the "working family" tag.

This is code for the Working Family Party a/k/a/ the NY State Employees Union.

It is not a surprise this politician wants funds to restore Union jobs before once cent goes to NYRA where there are plenty of "working families" on the backstretch.

jk said...

Interesting article in DRF says OTB has to cut payments to the harness tracks.

Audit: New York OTBs should pay less to racing

By Matt Hegarty

The audit specifically singled out payments to the harness industry required by law when New York's OTBs take night-time simulcast signals. Those payments are "outdated and too high," the audit said.

Figless Anon said...

bally, i do agree there are plenty of jerks in racing, but mostly at the top of the game.

The day to day horsemen appreciate that the gamblers are the lifeblood of the industry, believe me, but like any other business or sport the most successful get spoiled.

i apologize for coming off so angry, when i re-read my comment i could not believe it was me, we are all frustrated with this situation right now, fans, gamblers and horsemen.

imagine breeding a two year old, paying the bills for two full years, plus the mares upkeep, and now when it is almost ready to run you are facing this uncertainty, not fun.

anon, 11.21, i would not argue with eliminating the double restricted claiming races, the NY Bred Nw2L type. Agree they are duplicitous, in fact often times non-ny breds can not find a race. There is no need, just make them all open company.

Before they ran these they ran a lot more NY Bred Alw races instead we get claimers, another cost saving measure.

But then some of those horses would ship to Finger Lakes and right now NYRA needs all the horses it can muster.

Imagine it has come to this, NYRA competing with Finger Lakes for horses.

Sat card, 55 of 91 entries (60%) are NY Bred.

Sunday, 53/79 (67%).

Finger Lakes south, very sad, they really need to consider going to a 3 or 4 day week if they do not close altogether.

Meanwhile, MTH has an open NW1 Alw with an 80k purse with of course a full field.

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for Ballyfager to give any evidence whatsoever that Churchill has better racing than Belmont.

Luckily for me I am not holding my breath.

Figless Anon said...

I will give you some evidence that CD is suffering too;


CD - 11 race card, 89 entries (8.1 per race) compared to

BEL - 10 races with 91 (9.1 per race in NY), granted with no NY Breds

HOL - 9 races with 72 entrants (8 per race).

CD races;

1 - G3, NY has a G2, HOL a G3
1 - Open Alw
1 - Str Alw with 7 entrants
1 - MSW on the grass, full field of 12
3 - Open claimers, all 16k and lower, total of 19 entrants
4 - Mdn Clm with short fields.

The subsidized tracks are kicking butt, no real difference in quality between NYRA and CD or HOL at this point, both pale in comparison to Mth.

ballyfager said...

@Anon 12:51

For God's sake, Bel is running four & five NY bred races a day. CD NEVER runs a state-bred race. No need because Ky-breds can compete anywhere.

I'm not responsible for what you can't figure out. Monmouth Park opens tomorrow. That's where my attention is and that's where I'll be.

Anonymous said...


What you ignore is that just because a race is for NY State breds does not mean it is a bad betting race or even necessarily cheap. There are plenty of NY breds of good quality.

I get it, NYRA sucks ( at least according to you ) but that doesn't change your obvious bias and misrepresentation of the truth.

ballyfager said...

Okay look I'm done with this. For the most part they ARE shitty horses, that's why they need to run in restricted races.

And for the third and last time, I have nothing against NYRA.