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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wanna Bet?

Yeah I know, been awhile since the last post. But hey, it's a slow time in the racing calendar. And besides, it's the holidays, and we're all supposed to be depressed, right? I mean, that's what everyone tells me, especially for some reason my yoga instructors. Guess that must be their selling point this time of year. Anyway, guess I'm overdue for a post, so here goes.

The purses go up at the Big A on December 28, when NYRA comes back from its Christmas holiday break that begins after racing concludes this Sunday. Will the purses merely attract more bad horses, as this reader postulated? Or will quantity also mean quality? I spoke to someone with intimate knowledge of the NYRA circuit who said he has absolutely no idea what to expect...and if he doesn't, I don't know that anyone does.

It does seem likely that horsemen are holding back at this point, awaiting the more generous prize money. The racing here usually holds up fairly well in December, but that's surely not the case this year. I was there on Saturday, and the card was just dismal. The Xmas break can't come soon enough, and we can only hope for some light on the other side.

Resorts World of course will not be taking a break; their casino is open every day of the year. It should be quite the holly jolly scene there around 2AM on Christmas morning. In fact, the second and third floors of the casino is slated to open on Friday, adding another 2,514 VLT's to the gambling menu there; as well as two 250-seat restaurants. The third floor is billed as the largest event and catering space in the borough.

The new additions are opening four months ahead of schedule, Resorts World said.

“We have been truly humbled by the response of New Yorkers and tourists alike and we thank them for their ongoing support and patronage,” said Resorts World New York President Michael Speller. “Due to the hard work of our 1,500-person staff, we’re confident that we will be able to continue providing the highest level of service to our customers as we unveil the second stage of our facility.” []
Of course, it's highly unlikely that a doubling of the machines is going to mean a doubling of the patrons. Haven't seen any promotional efforts tied to the expansion...seems almost like a soft opening. And the Special Events tab of the website still reads Visit often for upcoming promotions at Resorts World Casino NYC. In any event, we should start to get an idea of how the win per machine figures are going to compare to NYRA's budgeted figure of $380. Considering that the figure dropped off to $478 for the week ending 12/10, that doesn't seem like such a lock now with all those machines set to come on line. Perhaps some people are discovering that VLT's are simply not all that much fun!

While NYRA may, or may not, be sweating this out, Genting itself has bigger fish to fry at the moment as the battle heats up in Florida over its bid to build a huge full-fledged casino and entertainment/convention center in downtown Miami. The company has hired a former congressman as a lobbyist, and he wrote an opinion piece in the Miami Herald this past weekend. That drew at least one heated response. As you might expect, Genting is using Aqueduct to herald their record of creating local jobs. It's always interesting to read views from afar, and this is what the casino opponent had to say about the 1,500 jobs created here:
Yet Diaz-Balart doesn't explain [that] the Queens racino is located in a depressed neighborhood, miles away from Manhattan, or that Genting agreed to pay the Empire State a $380 million upfront fee and a 66 percent tax rate to build a gambling facility that is significant smaller than the company's proposed Miami resort. [Miami New Times]
Though I find the casino itself to be quite depressing, I would hardly classify the working class neighborhood as 'depressed.' Besides, I don't understand the relevance of that argument anyway with employment scarce just about everywhere. And Queens can seem a lot further away from Manhattan than it really is when you're far away, But hey, that's their fight down there, and we'll just watch and see how it turns out.

- The New York Times continues its campaign against fighting in the National Hockey League with a barrage of articles on head injuries even after the three-part-series on the late Derek Boogard which even prompted the paper of record to break out a separate sports section last Tuesday. Funny how, as with horse racing, the Times is so eager to proselytize about the problems of a sport about which it's provided little positive coverage over the last few years. But just as Joe Drape's articles on illicit medication in racing has contributed to the sport's self-inspection, the Boogard articles are no doubt already having an effect.

It used to be you'd read that a player was out with a concussion, he'd be out for a few games perhaps, and then be back. So it's surely interesting to note the way the injury has become so magnified, not only in terms of the coverage of them but, more curiously, the seriousness, the amount of time missed, and the incidences of recurrence. Is it because players are bigger and stronger and thus more capable of causing profound damage? Or more due to a greater awareness of the issue of head injuries resulting in a far more cautious approach by player and team alike? In horse racing, we often blame an increase in physical problems on a deterioration of the breed. But since we're a superior race, it would surely be simply facetious of me to suggest that the human race is suffering from bad breeding as well, right?

And on that note, we turn, strictly by sheer coincidence of course, to the race for the Republican presidential nomination! Surely you've heard by now of the $10,000 bet proposed by Mitt Romney in last Saturday's debate in reaction to the continuing badgering he's taking, in this case specifically from Rick Perry, over his past support for health insurance mandates in Massachusetts. This was, to me, the most cringeworthy moment of the GOP debate season, and by a large margin, and including Perry's brain freeze over the three departments he wants to eliminate. It was a total breakdown of poise under pressure, borne of sheer frustration in reaction to criticism that he seems to be simply unable to handle, and which will surely become more relentless should he become the nominee. "Oh yeah, you wanna bet?" is the basest of schoolyard argument responses when a kid has run out of credible arguments to make.

To make matters worse for the beleaguered ex-governor, trailing badly in the polls to Newt Gingrich in several crucial early primary states, a series of embarrassing videos have emerged. One shows him badgering John Kerry for five agonizing minutes in 2004 for being a flip-flopper. Jon Huntsman rolled out an ad containing several clips in which he unequivocally expresses his support for mandates, not only for his state, but for the nation. And in another video that has surfaced from 2002, he says "my views are progressive."

I posted on Twitter recently that "$10,000 says that Romney is toast." Someone replied that he'd take me up on that. Unlike Romney, who I'm sure was totally serious, I wasn't. About the bet, anyway.


jk said...

The NYT reports on the haves and the have nots at Resorts World.

At Aqueduct, Clubhouse and Casino Are Different Turfs

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at all the White liberals in the media trying to make a big thing from a $10,000 bet.It didn't work.Mr Dutrow must be having a good laugh.

SaratogaSpa said...

Candidates judged mostly on short sound bites-"$10,000 bet" sounds bad, "Hope and Change" sounds good-maybe we deserve the politicians we elect

Teresa said...

Perhaps not so much in print, but the Times does have an active hockey blog that it promotes and that's updated regularly - I give it more credit for its hockey coverage than its racing coverage.

And in this case, at least someone decided that the issue of fighting, hits to the head, and their effects were worth investigating. I think, and hope, that the Branch series will be the beginning of a game-changer. Kudos for devoting the resources for such an exhaustive piece.

steve in nc said...

AQ's card last Saturday wasn't much for sure, but I just compared GP & AQ for this coming Saturday, and GP isn't that much better. Plenty of maiden races and low level claiming there too. The fields are larger but that's supposed to be the boutique meet of this season.

Thoroughbred race cards really do seem much worse than a decade or two ago.

As for the human species, didn't the band Devo take its name from the idea that we're devolving? Who cares. Let's go back to ignoring climate change and debate the Kardashian divorce.

jk said...

The drumbeat is growing for NYRA to use slot money to decrease takeout. Everyone (except horseman) agrees purse increases alone will not cut it. The takeout is too high if the purse is 40k or 50k. The glamorous surroundings provided for the slot players is more salt in the wound for the on track customer. The ball is in NYRA's court.

Press, Bettors, Customers Turn Up the Heat on NYRA

Anonymous said...


Horseplayers deserve MUCH better than the ignorance displayed in that HANA blog. It's a shame that they pretend to represent horseplayers yet understand the issue as poorly as suggested in that blog.

How come nobody at HANA has ever verbalized that the reason Tampa Bay has decreased their takeout from year to year ( aside from it being unreasonably high to begin with ) is that given how little of their handle is derived on-track, takeout decreases affect them minimally at best? I know why. They don't really understand the issue. I just wish, given this situation, that they would stop pretending they represent horseplayers. They don't represent me, and I'm a horseplayer.

No argument that takeout is a major issue in this game. But, it is more complicated than their simplistic approach, and that's giving them credit, and the only way to effect real change is to actually understand the issues.

Anonymous said...

Do you think Attorney General Eric Holder will wager $10,000 to prove that he had no culpability in the "Fast and Furious" fiasco? His refusal to show Congress his e-mails may incriminate a lot of higher up Democrats besides himself. He's been a total idiot of an AG since he was first appointed.