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Monday, December 20, 2010

Busy Time

I'm not in a parallel universe, just really busy, y'know, it's a busy time of year. Not to mention that the finance department at my job just went from a three-man department to two, and the other one besides me doesn't do that much. He doesn't read this blog. And we're busy getting ready for the Head Chef's annual Xmas feast, with a total of 25 guests, mostly from her side of the family, descending upon our humble home in Queens. None of them read this blog either, so I could dish the dirt on them, but they're all pretty nice I guess, and it's the holiday season, after all.

So I haven't had time to blog - other than to post the triumphant Jets photo to the right (and believe me, I was tempted to post a photo of DeSean Jackson instead.) (And OK, I can't help myself.)

Oh man!

Anyway, as El Angelo mentioned, not too much going on in the racing world this time of year anyway. There were a couple of local stories that didn't inspire me to find the time. Gary Pretlow had his hearing on consolidating the OTB's, but as far I'm concerned, that's totally beside the point. Joe Faraldo testified that there should be a third entity....created made up of a consortium of track people, horsemen, and breeders; in fact, there should be just two entities - or one, if you will - with the current OTB system put out to pasture for good, and the show run by, and to the benefit of, those who provide the content.

With NYC OTB gone (for now), NYRA and Yonkers should of course be able to create their own off track betting facilities which would supplement their business instead of cannibalizing it. It's so obvious that it becomes unthinkable in the bizarro world of Albany. Both tracks could, perhaps in partnership, open appealing facilities and install smart people like me to run them. Mine would be the coolest in the world; racing, Stella on tap, hip indie rock, and political lectures spanning the entire ideological spectrum, from progressives, to left-leaning moderates, all the way to open-minded gay and lesbian Republicans who voted for Obama.

Then there was the little flap about NYRA executives getting raises. Another so what story in my view. These guys brought the association back from the stone-cold dead, playing its hand flawlessly in executing its unlikely rally against the odds to retain the franchise. In the difficult period since then, NYRA nursed their meager cash flow, withstood repeated and unfair and ignorant attacks by politicians and the press alike, and made exactly the right threats at exactly the right times, successfully placing the onus on a clueless and ultimately acquiescent legislature which was never willing to allow it to go beyond the brink. Damn fucking straight they deserve raises.

Actually, most of us will have a little extra money in our pockets to piss away at the track come January 1. That's when the tax package that the president agreed to with the Republicans takes effect. And that 2% reduction in the social security rate means that percentage of your gross salary added to your paycheck. That's stimulus for sure, and one which I think will be more apparent to many folks than the modest one-time tax rebates we've seen in the recent past. The GOP may have accommodated their financial base by maintaining their tax cuts (while at the same time hypocritically decrying the deficit). But let's see them defend those rates for the richest 2% two years hence with the White House on the line, when the economy will be on a better track but with the deficit barely dented. I think it will prove to be a popular initiative which will reflect better on the president than on the Republicans; and a brilliant political move which will give him a potent campaign weapon in 2012.

Having subsequently repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and the Start treaty apparently headed towards ratification, the president is on a roll, and could bring a bit of a swagger into the more difficult political environment he'll face when the Republicans come to town in January.

Yeah, as I said, not too much going on in racing. Don't know if I'll be back before Xmas. Maybe I'll do my top ten albums of the year - I know you're really holding your breath for that. If not, then here's wishing you a safe, healthy, and joyously content holiday season. Peace.


steve in nc said...

Nice to hear from you again, and in such fine fettle (fetlock?) too. You've made me feel a little (just a little, mind you) politically optimistic and for that, I thank you.

As for Albany, downstaters I once know used to call it "Smallbany" in typical chauvenist sneer. I actually like small, but maybe the insult is fitting for the small-mindedness that seems to envelop folks when they get near the state capital.

And here come the "forward into the past" folks wanting state legislatures to be able to override federal laws. They talk a lot about the Constitution, but I think they're mistaking it for the Articles of Confederation.

And speaking of Confederacies, my adopted home, the South, has been into states rights ever since there were states. And until the federal government got involved, those states were the home of Jim Crow and government sanctioned lynching and violence against union organizers (but they prayed in school so it was cool with God).

Now, they argue that giving state legislatures more power will help bring more power to the people? That's some wild non-FDA-inspected tea those folks are sipping.

As for horse racing, true, not much in December, but I have time off from work now, so I can play more. Will you come back and yack with us, maybe when AQ returns to action in the days before New Year?

Peace to you and to all the readers and bloggers.

DiscreetPIcks said...

Ironic that Hollywood Park (which has had little-to-no problem with their synthetic track since it was installed) was forced to cancel their card after Sunday's second race due to unsafe track conditions. Nice lead-in to the opening of Santa Anita's new dirt track next weekend.

Btw, very intriguing match in the Malibu between Twirling Candy and Caracortado.

Anonymous said...

would a bettor be considered as "one you provides content?"

Figless said...

The bettor should have a place at the table, certainly.

If I were Racing Commissioner December would not be a boring month, because the Breeders Cup would be run on the same day as the Army-Navy game, with little to no competition for the sports fans attention.

Two weeks later, I would announce the Eclipse Awards winners, with electronic voting that is all the time you need.

Thoroughbred racing would be in the spotlight all month.

Anonymous said...

Peace from the rural hinterlands of Nevada...

Anonymous said...

If you put the Breeders Cup in December, you won't get any European horses.

jk said...

It is a sad holiday season for OTB landlords.....

Landlords lose at OTB, too
December 21, 2010 01:30PM By Patrick Egan

Figless said...

Sheading no tears for the Landlords, many of these leases were politically connected deals very favorable to the landlord all these years.

However, some of the restaurants essentially turned over their thriving businesses to NYCOTB and now are screwed, and that sucks.

Figless said...

anon 1207, i could care less about the Euros.

Realize it will never happen and Euro participation is no doubt one of the reasons, but IF I were commissioner and therefore in charge of looking out for whats best for the sport of racing in America, I would move the Cup to December thereby maximizing media attention and minimizing competition.

Some of the Euros would still come for all that money, in fact I remember some horse skipping the BC because it was too close to the Arc.

ljk said...

Swagger? Really?

So the Republicans take over the House, the economy gets better, the deficit is at least dented (not growing crazily like today), the red states pick up 10 electoral votes in the new census (in my heart I know FL is a red state), and Obama will run on a "hey, let's raise taxes!" platform? Good luck with that.

Love Figless' idea. I read awhile back that the BC was still looking at a permanent site OR purchasing a site. I can picture balmy Saturdays in December at BC owned Hialeah Park, and I could give a rat's ass if the Euros showed up. Never happen but a wonderful thought.

Don't forget to boycott SA.

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Any truth to the rumor Rex has hired a team farrier?

Mutaman said...

I just read where David Milch, writer of "Hillstreet Blues" and "Deadwood" and owner of Breeders Cup record holder Val Royal, has written a series about life at the track called "Luck". The show will air on HBO sometime in 2011 and stars Dustin Hoffman. It will be directed by Michael Mann.

Anonymous said...

welcome to 2010 mutaman. You should also know that our president is barack obama.

Mutaman said...

Sorry I'm a little slow. But I do know a moron when I see one.

Figless said...

ljk, thanks, and hialeah would be PERFECT!

IF the new dirt track ends up being safe, SA would also be a fine permanent venue.

A December date would obviously eliminate CD and Belmont from consideration, fine by me.

But you are correct, it will never happen because the BC Board is more concerned with the word "World" than "Championship" in their title .

Figless said...

NYRA now has LIVE video streaming, as do the surviving OTBs.

NYCOTB's demise has truly shocked the State into positive action.

In racing news, SA opens its new dirt track Sunday with a very nice card featuring the returns of Setsuko (my early Derby Fave) and Nobles Promise facing the overrated Twirling Candy and a bunch of other talented late developers. Nice race.

Beware the increased takeout.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hialeah for the BC may be the solution to revive this landmark Amercian race track. I would rather see more effort put into reviving a handicap racing circuit at all the major tracks.

And then allocate points for wins-places-shows in these Grade I and II stakes such that a consistent season-long performer could win an Eclipse and never race in the BC. The present system has become a bore.

Otherwise, we will continue to see pre BC stakes races lapse further into side show status. NYRA must lead the way or it will never happen. Bucking the BC is the problem. /S/greenmtnpunter

Figless said...

Green, OR, if the Eclipse folks refuse to change their MO, someone just needs to create a point structure with alternate awards (think Golden Globe), that at first would be scorned at by the elites but over time would become recognized as legit.

There should also be a "Peoples Choice Award" so a popular horse like Zenyatta would not fall through the cracks.

As for the point system, it can not be based on the current Grading system which has far too many inequities, otherwise three year olds will win HOY ever year, way too many graded races restricted to 3yo's.

El Angelo said...

You want to make the January-October races more meaningful? Reduce the number of Grade I races and award bonus money in BC races for horses that have won X number of G1's or graded stakes in general. You need to make it financially worthwhile for horses to keep running.

As for the Eclipse Awards, in the words of GMP's favorite jurist, "get over it."