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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

News, Notes, and Ramblings

- Looks like they did some pretty brisk business out at Belmont this past weekend with over 20,000 in attendance over Saturday and Sunday. Of course, the figure was helped by Father's Day, which always draws the second largest crowd of the spring meet (if not, sadly, including the once-decisive fall meeting as well). 12,863 turned out, which, to the best of my recollection, is more or less in line with pre-OTB days....and that would make sense. Hopefully, not too many dads chose to spend their big day with the family picnicking on the floor at the local OTB parlor. That would be pretty depressing. But 7,819 turned out on the Saturday after the Belmont, which isn't too shabby these days.

- Nehro underwent surgery last week for an injury apparently suffered in the Belmont. He's said to be a possibility for the Breeders' Cup, but we'll see. If he comes back, he does have an excuse for his Belmont, so he'll probably get bet and we can throw him out again. And Animal Kingdom himself also suffered what is said to be a very minor injury. It's one which will barely intrude upon his training schedule, but which will also likely serve to keep his odds down once he returns; good news as well.

These are the latest three-year old to suffer some kind of infirmity; a pretty extensive list which also includes The Factor, To Honor and Serve, Archarcharch, Premier Pegasus, and Toby's Corner (not to mention Uncle Schmo and his supposed gastrointestinal problem). And this comes with the reduced racing schedules that are employed today too. So, going back to Drape's article about slower Classic times possibly being related to the banning of steroids, John Ward was quoted as saying: "But we’re also beginning to see a sounder horse that will last longer.” That statement went unchallenged by the writer. Yet, it seems pretty clear that there's no evidence supporting it, at least not based on this bunch of three-year olds. In fact, since, we're told, that steroids allowed trainers to train their horses harder, for all we know, maybe the effect of their ban is the opposite? Just sayin.

- The NY Post reports that Genting is interested in building a convention center next to their racino at the Big A.

"They want a convention center to rival Javits," said state Sen. Joe Adabbo (D-Queens), who's been briefed on the proposal.
The city's business and tourism leaders have long complained that Javits -- the city's only convention center -- lacks adequate space to host large-scale exhibitions.
But there is no major space to hold big exhibitions anywhere in the outer boroughs, said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. [NY Post]
The idea would seem to make some sense considering the location's proximity to JFK. Surely, it would require hotels, and that makes a whole lot more sense in this context than prior such plans did with respect to a racino alone. And surely, convention goers could be easily led over to piss away some money at the slots.

Genting is a pretty diverse company whose interests are not limited to gambling, as one can see from their corporate website. The company recently purchased 14 acres of prime space in downtown Miami, and plans to proceed with a convention center/hotel/entertainment/retail/residence/etc complex whether they are able to obtain a casino license, or not.

Indeed, these diversification plans in New York may very well be with an eye toward what seems like an inevitable, at some point, expansion of Indian casinos into the New York suburbs.

- Yonkers also has plans, though their $40 million project is limited to expanding their gambling facilities (well, gambling other than that on horse racing anyway)....and surely with an eye towards the looming competition from Genting's gambling property in Queens.
Empire City officials said the project will involve construction of a new east wing (one story and a mezzanine) totaling some 60,000 square feet. About 30,000 square feet will be used for new gaming space, 20,000 square feet will be dedicated for new food and beverage operations and 10,000 square feet will be used for office space and storage/mechanical rooms. Also part of the expansion is a 6,600-square-foot covered entrance to the casino used for valet parking. [Westfair Online]
They'll have room for 400 more slot machines (for a total of 5,710), for more "seats" for the electronic roulette, which was introduced around the new year, as well. (They have a great TV ad with a giant roulette ball bouncing around the city which unfortunately I can't find online.) [UPDATE: Here it is, thanks Chris!]

They recently also announced the introduction of video craps, as more traditional "table games" are adapted as a permitted virtual activity in New York. Of course, there's no doubt that they are also thinking about making some room for the real table games' inevitable arrival at the racinos.

And needless to say, this racino continues to be wildly successful.
In April and May of this year, Empire City posted net revenues of $56.7 million each month and sent a total of $56.5 million to the education fund. In June 2007, the racino contributed $20 million to Yonkers and each June thereafter has sent the city a check for $19.6 million.

Empire City is by far the most successful racino of the eight gaming venues in operation in the state. In April and May, net revenue for all eight facilities totaled $208.5 million. Yonkers Raceway’s net revenue was $113.4 million.
- Made it to our first free outdoor music event of the summer. As part of the Celebrate Brooklyn series at Prospect Park, producer Hal Willner, who has a long history of presenting interesting theme-based concert programs, presented his Freedom Riders Project - Music of the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to the expected crack band, there were appearances by Toshi Reagon, Lou Reed, Todd Rungren (!), and Rosanne Cash, whose interpretation of Curtis Mayfield's People Get Ready was the musical highlight of the evening.

A couple of things that came to mind during the show: Eric Mingus did a version of 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,' by the late great Gil-Scott Heron, who left us just a few weeks ago. Man, talk about a song that's now outdated; and the 31 years since its release is really just a drop in the bucket in the scheme of things. The Revolution will (and has) not only been televised, but Twittered, You Tubed, and Facebooked too!

And secondly, seems hard to believe that it was just in my lifetime that so many people in our free nation had to fight and, in some cases, die for their basic and inalienable rights and freedoms. The fight goes on for some, most relevantly in New York State at this time as the gay marriage bill continues to stall as of this writing in the Republican-controlled State Senate. Of course, gay marriage is -- or at least should be -- a relatively minor matter which really would have no effect whatsoever on any of the petty and small-minded people who are campaigning against it. It seems as if their argument is strictly down to religious ones, which is not much of an argument of all.

In any event, Monday was supposed to be the final day of the legislative session, but the session will go on as this issue, as well as the expiring NYC rent control laws, are still to be resolved. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has still not committed to allowing the bill to proceed to the floor for a vote, where it would, by all counts, need one more vote to pass. Several Republicans are said to be the possible deciders, but the GOP is holding out for more protections and indemnifications for religious institutions which don't want to participate. That seems kind of odd. This is a secular state after all; the government makes the rules, and religions follow it. We tend to fight wars against those who believe it should be the other way around.

In fact and however, it's a pretty sure bet that all Skelos really cares about is whether his party can still retain its majority in 2012 should the measure pass with a few GOP votes. If he ultimately decides that it cannot, he will surely not allow a vote; it's as simple as that.

- The Head Chef has more on the Celebrate Brooklyn show on her Grapes and Greens blog.


Anonymous said...

Drape and Ward are a perfect tandem of fraudulence.

Anonymous said...

Hey, maybe the Big A developments will convince the powers that be to shut down the inner track meet for good and just leave a late fall card leading up to Holiday Fest and a shoulder season leading into Belmont. Purse $'s could be saved up for some big #'s at reduced AQU, BEL and SAR.